Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Five Dangers of Drifting Away From God

from Crosswalk.com...

 We see it all around us, in headline news stories, or from the lives of those we know and maybe once trusted. And even so often, in our very own lives.

Sometimes it happens before we realize what’s occurred. It’s unintentional. We don’t plan it. Lulled by the slow pull away, swayed by other things we start deeming more important, we wake up one day and realize things seem different. We find ourselves in a place we’d never intended to go.

The drift.

Happens.

5 Dangers of Drifting:

  1. -We begin to pull away from godly influences. Marriages suffer. Trust gets broken. We lose our heart for others. We fall away from close fellowship with other believers. We neglect accountability and connection with those who would encourage our walk in Christ. Matthew 22:37-40

  2. - We stop praying. We’re too busy. We’re weary. Or simply overwhelmed. We shoot a few prayers up His way, like, “Lord, bless our day,” but we’re unaffected by the lack of closeness we have with our Creator. Constantly wired to electronic devices, we’re more in tune to what others are saying and doing, the constant media chatter, than we are to what is on God’s heart for the day. - 1 Thessalonians 5:17

  3. - We lose focus, or desire, for His Words. We’re no longer reading or hearing it. We’re distracted by all that calls our name through the day.  To-do lists beckon us from the moment we wake up, crazy schedules leave no room for moments with Him. Or maybe we find ourselves just disconnected completely. Stone cold, distant, withdrawn, His words of life and truth fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts. Matthew13:14-15

  4. - We lose our heart for worship. We stop going to church and fill our minds with excuses of why we can’t. Or why it’s not that important. Or maybe we still go so we can check the church box. We sing words, hear words, then we go home. Yet not really singing and not really hearing. Unaffected. Distant. All the while, our hearts feel a million miles away. Hebrews10:25

  5. - The spiritual things that once concerned us, no longer concern us. We’re more easily influenced by the opinions of the world instead of the truth of God’s Word. Compassion for people wanes. His Spirit within us is stifled. Our heart for God is dulled. The pull towards sin increases. We begin to see life through selfish motives, blurred by pride, and our quest to live happy, on our terms. We find ourselves twisting truth to meet our own needs. We become numb to the danger that surrounds us, often until it’s too late to avoid great consequences that follow our choices. 1 John 2:16, 2 Timothy 4:4

But we don't have to live that way, we can choose differently...

And that’s not always easy. Because often, it's easier to just go with the flow. It takes effort, hard work, not to drift away. Knowing "of" truth isn't the same as immersing ourselves "in" truth. One will keep us aware and close to our Safety, the other may allow us to drift slowly in the wrong direction.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Flashback Friday

 Back to the 80's this week to take a look at the group NewSong. NewSong is an American contemporary Christian music group that was founded in 1981, at Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta, Georgia. They have had twelve GMA Dove Award nominations, and one Grammy Award Nomination. The original four members included the current members Eddie Carswell, Billy Goodwin, and former members Eddie Middleton and Bobby Apon.

NewSong recorded three custom albums independently. In 1982, they signed on with Covenant Records, and released The Son In My Eyes the next year. In 1984, they signed a contract with Canaan Records, a branch of CCM label giant Word Records and released The Word. NewSong continued to stay with Word Records until 1991 when they signed on with DaySpring Records. The next year they released One Heart At A Time, The Best of NewSong, which featured 12 hits from their previous albums. In 1993, they joined up with the Benson Music Group and released All Around The World, which brought four No. 1 hits. I think my favorite off this album is the title track "All Around The World"...


In 1994 NewSong released People Get Ready which also brought four No. 1 hits, and featured a re-recorded version of "Arise My Love", which was first recorded by the original group in 1987.

In May 1999, they released Arise, My Love, The Very Best of NewSong. This featured 12 of their previous No. 1 hits. It also included two new songs which became No. 1 hits, "Jesus To The World (Roaring Lambs)" and another personal favorite, "Can’t Keep A Good Man Down"... 


Leading up to 2000, NewSong caught the attention of popular radio personality, DC Daniel (then, of "Steve & DC") and began collaborating on production ideas for future projects. The partnership led to the most successful period of NewSong's career as they released the album Sheltering Tree, in late 2000. DC, Eddie Carswell and Leonard Ahlstrom penned the bonus track "The Christmas Shoes" for Sheltering Tree, which became a No. 1 mainstream radio hit in a Billboard chart-record 3 weeks, topping Billboard's Adult Contemporary Chart. 


This is the most recognizable song from NewSong and spurred a best selling book and was later made into a TV movie  that was the second highest-rated TV movie of the 2002–2003 seasons.  

In 2003 a second bestseller based on the song was released and and was later made into a TV movie by CBS. It was the most watched TV movie in 2005, and had an appearance by NewSong, which showed them singing their holiday single "The Christmas Blessing". NewSong also received a Dove Award for Musical of the Year for The Christmas Shoes Musical.

In November 2004, NewSong recorded their live worship album and DVD, Rescue: Live Worship at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, which is the home church for several members in the band. The album was released in May 2005, and the DVD of the concert came out in September. Also in 2005, NewSong was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

NewSong continues to perform and release new albums. You can catch up with their current activities on their website at http://www.newsongonline.com/.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

New Music

CAIN, the sibling trio behind the multi-week No. 1 single “Rise Up (Lazarus),” announces the anticipated release of their first full-length album, Rise Up which will be available May 7.

Leading up to the album’s release, CAIN – comprised of Logan Cain, Madison Cain Johnson, and Taylor Cain Matz – just dropped their latest single “Yes He Can.”  “Yes He Can” shares the message of how God is always working miracles in our lives.

***************

Last week, UK-based worship music collective Orphan No More released the live video for “Thomas.” “Thomas” is from the group’s eight song EP, Death Died.

“Thomas is an honest and reflective confession of faith and doubt. Written in the wake of loss and recorded during the height of lockdown and isolation, the song reaches out from the depths of the human experience into the scarred hands of divine love and acceptance,” 

***************

Also last week, Josh Baldwin released a new music track titled “Evidence (Live)” featuring Dante Bowe.

“This stripped down version unfolds into a natural and organic sound for Josh, taking him back to his deep southern roots. Josh describes this song as a journey of coming home, watching as all throughout his history, God has faithfully walked beside him every step of the way.”


***************

The Belonging Co released a new song titled“The Truth” featuring Lauren Strahm and Andrew Holt.

The worship group shares about the release: “The Truth” is a bold new anthem that unashamedly declares Jesus is the only way, truth, and life. This worship moment serves as a compass, pointing the Church back to the basis of our faith, our due North, Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Just in case you missed the Easter specials last weekend here are a few to watch if you are still interested and aren't quite ready to be finished with the Easter season just yet...

Good Friday Worldwide hosted by Chris Tomlin & Max Lucado

Because He Lives: An Easter Celebration.


Global Easter Celebration with Chris Tomlin


Selah Easter Special

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Three Results of Jesus' Resurrection

I hope that everyone had a good Easter weekend. There was a good article on Crosswalk.com that discussed the 3 Beautiful Results of Jesus' Resurrection that I thought I would share...

When we think of the Gospel, three elements come to mind. Paul gave us this succinct list in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 when he said Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day.

It is this last event that we celebrate at Easter—and without which Jesus would have been just another dead prophet. Of course, He couldn’t stay dead because He was God and the grave couldn’t hold him. Hallelujah!

But there are three other beautiful truths associated with the Gospel, and specifically Jesus’s resurrection, that I think we need to remember especially at Easter. These facts help us face our daily lives with greater hope—and the help of our Lord.

When the world seems out of control, family drama threatens to overwhelm us, or our finances unravel, we can trust His unchanging, unfailing love and provision. 

1. Jesus Is Coming Again

Just when we might think the gospel couldn’t get any better, it does. Not only did Jesus die for our sins, and then rise from the grave, but He’s coming again. The purpose of his Second Coming is to first bring heaven to earth, and then bring [a transformed] earth to heaven.

Sprinkled through the New Testament are references to this coming. The most direct of these is when Jesus said that He was going to prepare a place for his disciples, and that he would come back again and take them with him to it in John 14:2-3. Jesus also referenced his return when he spoke these words to Peter after his resurrection when he appeared to the disciples “... until I come..." in John 21:22-23.

Paul taught the return of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:23. He goes on in verse 24 to tell us how Jesus will reign on earth. Through the rest of that chapter, he teaches further about our own physical resurrection upon Christ’s coming.

Then in Revelation, the event is detailed for us. Chapters 20 through 22 include some of the most exciting verses in the whole Bible. They tell the end of the story. Have you ever read a mystery novel and cheated by reading the ending because you couldn’t stand the suspense? As Christians, we can do that.

We have the whole story in the Bible. We don’t have to wonder or be afraid. Jesus didn’t leave us in suspense. He made sure we could draw comfort from our knowledge of the triumphant end.

We turn once again to Paul’s writing, this time in 1 Thessalonians chapter five, to learn how to discern the timing of Jesus’s return. He closes his discussion with the admonition in verse 11 that we encourage each other by remembering how it will all turn out.

We can do this because the end of God’s story includes a happy outcome for us. So hang in there. The best really is yet to come.

2. Jesus Is in Heaven Praying for Us

I rely on this knowledge when I don’t know what else to do or where to turn. The New Testament gospels relate that Jesus rose into heaven after his resurrection. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, confirmed that Jesus was in heaven after his resurrection.

Luke recorded in Acts 7:55-56 how Stephen saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God just before Stephen succumbed to his injuries. What might have seemed like a senseless death to the rest of the world, was really Jesus shedding his human body so that He could return to his heavenly throne room.

Romans 8:26 says that the Holy Spirit prays for us, helping us when we don’t know what to pray for. Because we believe in the Triune God—meaning that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three parts of the One True God—we know that the Holy Spirit is actually Jesus Himself. Putting this verse together with Stephen’s vision, we learn that not only is Jesus standing at the right hand of God in heaven, but He is praying for us through the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus is always interceding for us, because he is our high priest!

We never have to feel like we’re all alone, or that no one cares about us. We don’t ever need to think Jesus doesn’t know, or isn’t doing anything to help, when the going gets tough. He is. He’s standing in the ultimate place of authority and praying for us.

3. Jesus Is Preparing a Place for Us

We turn again to Jesus’s words in John 14:1-3, concerning Jesus’s return for his followers. This passage is a solid reminder that we have an ultimate destination—and it is with Jesus.

It’s not some random, general place, either. Jesus used the Greek word meaning remain, or stay. In Latin it is mansio, a traveler’s resting place. The word choice here indicates a particular place to stay where a person can rest. The Bible wasn’t written just for the disciples. It’s for us, too, so we can take this as our promise.

Doesn’t the idea of a place to rest and put your feet up sound inviting? Jesus knew exactly what we will need when he returns—and he knew we needed to hear about it now, in our crazy, stressful, sometimes frightening physical lives.

Jesus is coming again, and while we wait for his return, He prays for us. He’s also getting our ultimate abode ready. I say, along with John in Revelation 22:20, Yes! Come, Lord Jesus!

What a relief to know that we don’t have to worry about what we might have to face. No phone call, or doctor’s report, or accident ever catches Jesus off-guard—and He’s got a plan for how it will all work out in the end. We really can encourage each other with the words in the Bible that tell us Jesus is coming again, He’s getting our ultimate resting place ready for us, and He’s praying us through until we can get there.

Monday, April 5, 2021

New Music

Some great new music debuted last week. First we will start off with a new mashup just in time for Easter by Charlotte Ave. of "Because He Lives" and "Redeemer"...


***************
Celebrated worship artist Phil Wickham premiered a bold new song on Friday, “House of the Lord." Wickham shared on social media that this track has “some JOY on it.”


***************
For more than a decade as the frontman for Memphis May Fire, Matty Mullins is no stranger to the industry. He has been able to share his faith-based positivity with large secular crowds all over the world. He has previously released two CCM-based projects Matty Mullins (2014) and Unstoppable (2017) with much success on both projects. Now on Good Friday, Mullins shared a brand new solo song. “Show You The Cross.”


***************
Finally from Friday, my favorite husband and wife duo, Caleb & Kelsey Grimm released a mashup of Zach Williams' "There Was Jesus" with "What a Friend We Have In Jesus."

Sunday, April 4, 2021

He Is Risen...

 ...He is Risen, Indeed!

Wishing you a happy Easter as we come together to celebrate our Risen Lord.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Hallelujah!

Cassandra Star (age 10) & her big sister Callahan (19) sing this beautiful & meaningful Easter version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Nothing more I can write to add to this... Enjoy...

Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday!

 Our regularly scheduled Flashback Friday will return next week... This week we take time (in what may be the ultimate flashback) to remember Good Friday.

What is Good Friday?

For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).

On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).

Why "Good" Friday?

Still, why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar? Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in German, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” In English, in fact, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.

In order for the good news of the gospel to have meaning for us, we first have to understand the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation. The good news of deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved. Another way of saying this is that it is important to understand and distinguish between law and gospel in Scripture. We need the law first to show us how hopeless our condition is; then the gospel of Jesus’ grace comes and brings us relief and salvation.

In the same way, Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as that day was, it had to happen for us to receive the joy of Easter. The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out to the nations. Without that awful day of suffering, sorrow, and shed blood at the cross, God could not be both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in Jesus (Romans 3:26). Paradoxically, the day that seemed to be the greatest triumph of evil was actually the deathblow in God’s gloriously good plan to redeem the world from bondage.

The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. Psalms 85:10 sings of a day when “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other.” The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where God’s demands, his righteousness, coincided with his mercy. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin. “For the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it led to his resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.

Good Friday marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark and so Good.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Romans 5:6-10

He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24



Thursday, April 1, 2021

Maundy Thursday

Today is April 1st... commonly known as April Fools Day. It has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, though its exact origins remain a mystery. April Fools’ Day traditions include playing hoaxes or practical jokes on others, often yelling “April Fools!” at the end to clue in the subject of the April Fools’ Day prank.

You may even be involved in a prank today, but more importantly, since this is the Thursday before Easter, we celebrate today as Maundy Thursday.

Maundy Thursday is believed to be the day when Jesus celebrated his final Passover with His disciples. Most notably, that Passover meal was when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples in an extraordinary display of humility. He then commanded them to do the same for each other.

Christ's "mandate" is commemorated on Maundy Thursday---"maundy" being a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means "command."  It was on the Thursday of Christ's final week before being crucified and resurrected that He said this commandment to His disciples. Jesus and his disciples had just shared what was known as the Last Supper and he was washing their feet when he stated:

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34).

This new commandment raised the definition of love to a new and higher standard. Jesus sacrificially met His followers' deepest need---that of new spiritual life and the forgiveness of sins. He even loved His enemies, and He calls us to show love to those who don't appear to deserve it. Just as Jesus loved sinners "to the end" (or "to the max" John 13:1) when He had nothing to gain from them, so must we. The Bible says that there was nothing attractive about sinful mankind that drew Him to love us. God loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). Salvation is not only a wonderful gift that protects us from the penalty that we deserve Romans 6:23 , the work of Christ also embues new life, grants spiritual strength, and motivates godly action in those who believe:

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2:11-14)

While Scripture doesn't forbid us to commemorate days like Maundy Thursday, the main question is are we observing Christ's new command to love---especially those who deserve it least?

"Beloved, let us love one another. For love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:7-8)

Many churches observe Maundy Thursday with a Communion service and often a foot-washing ceremony. These traditions help Christians reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus and his commandment for us to love and serve others.

Often, during communion, a pastor will read the following passage about what happened on the events of Maundy Thursday:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26: "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes."

Every time we participate in communion, we recognize what happened during the events of Maundy Thursday. That our Lord Jesus was betrayed, to be tried and crucified the next day on Good Friday.

Luke 22:27-38 - "When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” .."