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Sufficient Giver

For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16

Our great creator freely designed all things in heaven and on earth. He perfected each item with an eternity mindset. Amongst His amazing plan, He thought of you. We each play a role in God’s plan.

Do you see God in everything everyday?

Psalm 139:14 reminds us we are fearfully and wonderfully made. The writer, David, praised the Lord for His amazing works. Each time I think about this verse I have to stop and ask myself, “When was the last time you praised God for making you?”

I don’t know about you but, I find myself complaining about my imperfections and frailties more than thanking God for His design. Praising Him for my existence is a struggle. Why? Because the enemy has told me differently over and over and I listened to his “hogwash”.

So I have to reel in my thoughts and focus on the words “your works are wonderful” in Psalm 139:14. If I truly believe these words then I have to realize that includes me. That includes you! The Lord created us on purpose for His divine plan. We are wonderfully made.

Not only did He form us in our mother’s womb but, He makes a way for us to walk alongside Him for eternity and provide for us. He promises to stay with us and work in us and through us if we are willing.

Think about nature. The Lord looks after his creation and gives it everything it needs. It is fascinating how each animal and plant is sufficiently giving the nutrients needed. And yet God loves us even more as we read in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

When was the last time you sat at His feet and thanked Him for creating you? Have you spent any time expressing your gratitude for Him as your sufficient giver? You are valuable to the Lord. Press in and give Him praise.

Guest Speaker: Lisa Ives

“Have you ever wondered what it will sound like in Heaven?”

Yes, I have wondered and I think I know the answer. I think every time I am blessed to record with Praise & Harmony, a ministry led by brother Keith Lancaster, that I get a small taste, glimpse and sensation of what it will be like to sing in Heaven surrounding God’s throne.

As a teenager growing up in the church, I first heard of the singing duo Acappella at a youth series night of worship. Keith Lancaster and his friend Rodney Britt joined together to form that first group -to write and sing songs from scripture that were made using only the very finest instrument created by the hand of God – their voices. As soon as I heard and sang along with their songs, I was a fan for life. Little did I know, I would be able to one day meet Keith and sing along with him to record over 14 Praise & Harmony albums with countless other brothers and sisters. The mission of the Praise & Harmony project is to create congregations who love to sing and to help them learn songs in 4 part harmony. Albums are created with a mix of both contemporary songs and traditional hymns.

The recording experience is truly surreal. The process itself is a grueling grind of physical and emotional exhaustion that takes you to the mountain top heights of worship and down to the depths of the valley of despair – a true emotional rollercoaster with blessings beyond measure. Surrounded by anywhere from 125-250 other singers on these recordings, you feel totally engulfed in the songs and their powerful lyrics that remind us of what a wonderful God we have, what a magnificent Savior died for us, what pain and suffering feel like and what joy and blessings are only found in Him. The messages are powerful and cut to the core of your Christianity, causing you to meditate and think on spiritual things as you are drawn out by the melodies and harmonies created by you and around you. It is so powerful, it is truly difficult to find words that are adequate in describing what a blessed experience happens. I often find myself moved to tears and unable to sing as I just listen to those around me.

For weeks prior to the recording date, singers are all practicing the arrangements to tracks provided by Keith to perfect our part as either a soprano, alto, tenor or bass. The preparation he and his team put forth to lay the groundwork for us is amazing and helps make the final product even better. Before COVID-19, we were blessed to be able to gather together at a location provided by a home congregation. We were able to renew old acquaintances and meet new friends as we all pushed through the 3 day recording process to churn out an album of 25 songs. The albums are produced with 2 CDs of identical songs. One CD is the entire group singing, while a second CD is produced as a “training disc” providing audio of only one singer for each part, allowing a listener to easily hear the part they want to learn as they sing. The training CD is a vital part to the Praise & Harmony mission to equip everyone, regardless of vocal ability/musical knowledge, to do as scriptures teach and , “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!” Ps. 47:6 ESV

God doesn’t want just the best singers – He wants YOUR best. He doesn’t call you to be “recording quality”, He calls you to worship him in song with YOUR voice, which is beautiful to His ears. I encourage you if you don’t sing, SING now. We all have that ability – think about the last time you sang along to the radio in your car – the joy it gives you, the feelings that wash over you. If you can do that for yourself, how much more important you DO THAT FOR GOD. It’s my prayer that you use song to show God how much you love him and if you do, it’s guaranteed you’ll be blessed.

If you’d like to listen to samples of the Praise & Harmony albums and even purchase them (CD or direct mp3 downloads), go the website: https://acappella.org/store/

Choosing Wise Freedom

Blog post dedicated to Audra Rea (one who exercises freedom to serve others according to God’s wisdom)

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13

What comes to mind when you think about freedom? The right to choose-free from bondage-carefree living-being your own boss-able to speak your mind-etc. America prides itself on the term based upon the foundation of the country. Many questions come to the surface when we go back 244 years ago.

Was their way of living better than dictatorship? Did they get everything correct when trying to establish a new country? Were they able to agree on everything? Does it really take trial and error to be a wise country? Are we a more united nation today from the struggles we have endured over the years? Do we really understand what the term freedom means? Is our focus on what is right or wrong more than what is wise? Are we better off in 2020 than they were in 1776?

I am not sure I can craft complete answers and thoughts for every question presented above. However, I can attest to freedom out of control. Self-centered rights taken to the extreme with very little grace or mercy extended to others. Retaliation seems to be the theme in exercising the “American Way”. The unity to be “one nation under God” somehow has taken a backseat and replaced with Self-preservation for One and One for Self-preservation. How often do we make our decisions on what is right or wrong personally according to our thinking without any regard to what is wise according to the Lord. (I am so guilty as charged!!!)

As I have been traveling through the book of Proverbs, wisdom and folly are presented verse after verse. Solomon was a leader of many and wanted to acquire the wisdom of the Lord. He carried out James 1:5-7 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord”. Solomon exercised his freedom to seek out what was wise through his fear of the Lord. He had regard for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation yet he even had transfer issues—difficulty living it out in all areas of his life.

Choosing wise freedom under biblical authority is not always easy (or popular for that matter). However, it is essential for us to understand the source of perfect knowledge – “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Proverbs 2:6 reminds us that wisdom comes from the mouth of the Lord through knowledge and understanding.

So, when we grasp God’s insight and apply it to our freedom according to His wise counsel, maybe it should also reflect the seven attributes stated in James 3:17. Boy, do I have some work to do! As I process this knowledge and begin to let it penetrate my heart, I am really convicted.

On this 4th of July, I have realized my “American freedom” lacks God’s purity and may even reflect the freedom of folly. As for me, my freedom focus has been altered by this single verse.

I pray this post has given you a different stance of freedom and made you think about what is wise for your life more than what the world says is right or wrong.

1. Peace-loving-inclined to avoid conflict or aggression

2. Considerate-careful not to cause inconvenience or hurt to others

3. Submissive-ready to conform to God’s authority; meekly obedient

4. Full of mercy-compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm

5. Good fruit-to produce God-pleasing goodness

6. Impartial-treating all rivals or disputants equally; fair and just

7. Sincere-free from pretense or deceit

BOOK REVIEW: Hidden Potential

Pope, W. (2020). Hidden Potential. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

Summary: Written based on the life circumstances and personal attributes of Moses, Pope addresses four issues which have the ability to restrain a follower. These are presented as main topics: failures, fears, frailties, and faults. The writer defines and expands on each topic directly incorporating a focus on how each can create a stumbling block when serving the Lord.

Through biblical sound teaching, Pope illustrates the lies of the enemy and encourages readers to restore their “fractured faith”. She clearly prompts the reader to face the elephant in the room by identifying areas in our lives holding us back from the full potential of God’s plans. Pope delivers the content using Moses’ excuses and downfalls to shed light on the Lord’s continual view, love, and mercy towards His children.

Pope incorporates self-reflection prompts, discussion questions, and real-life stories to transition Moses’ story into a modern-day application lesson for believers. The primary take-away is for readers to comprehend their value and usefulness in God’s eyes despite their personal feelings of worth based on their individual failures, fears, frailties, and faults. Pope sums up the overall message in her own words, “You are a worthwhile possibility to God, full of potential, waiting to be discovered”.

My $.02: Wow! Just the book I needed to propel me forward. There are several areas where God has led me yet, I have hit some roadblocks and lack of confidence. (okay, along with MANY other things!) Do I ever question future potential despite the dreams and vision deep within my heart? Maybe I should just say yes and not reveal how many occurrences a day.    

Pope brought back to mind the failures, fears, frailties, and faults of Moses. I had forgotten several of these regarding his life. Based on many of these areas, the author had a way of prompting me to deal with my own barriers. She reminded me that God remains in control and continues His own purpose regardless of my downfalls and selected setbacks. The book confirmed the issue of me being my own worse enemy in numerous fashions.

I love how Pope defined each term and presented a simple self-reflection question at the beginning of every chapter. It is always refreshing to see an author acknowledge the two sources of help from God: His Holy Word and the Holy Spirit. Throughout the writing, Pope reflects upon scripture and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Her candidness and translucency present an inviting opportunity to lay out all your struggles and excuses before the Lord. The words are offered and communicated with great reverence for God and His love for everyone, “warts and all”.  

Personally, I found so many inspirational statements that my highlighter may be requesting a thirst-quenching vacation ASAP. Let me just share a few with you:

Failure – “God uses every failure to mature our faith.”

Fear – “It is possible to be faithful and fearful at the same time.”

Frailties – “No one is too damaged or unskilled to join God in His work.”

Faults – “You see, we aren’t meant to lead and direct our own lives.”

If you are struggling with letting God lead, afraid of the pathway He has been asking you to take, and/or simply think you don’t have what it takes to carry out the plans of the Lord, find this book. God wants you to hear about the potential you really have if you are willing to be His surrendered servant. He knows you, inside and out, and sees a useful-valuable vessel to advance His kingdom. Stop putting it off—You have an amazing future ahead.

Don’t just take my word for it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52223634-hidden-potential

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