Frustration, Faithfulness, and God’s Timing + CD Giveaway

One of the unique differences between Christian artists and the majority of other musicians is openness about the muse for music. Christian art is about testifying to the God who is, glorifying Him through song.

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The story behind Kari Jobe’s new album The Garden is a real life example of the reason for the hope she has in Jesus. In the title track, Jobe describes the desperation she felt when her sisters’ infant James Ivy arrived stillborn. Jobe was pregnant at the same time. The loss bore all the tragedy of shared dreams shattered and hope falling limp before the Lord.

But God.

In His perfect timing, He brought healing and revived hope for Jobe when months later a garden at her new home began to bloom. It had looked a mess, and she wasn’t sure what it would produce. She discovered, climbing up with fresh life, ivy.

Her reflection resounds in the title track lyrics: “For this moment you planned ahead that I would see your faithfulness…”

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My friend Lois recently wrote about her own experience with God planning ahead for her when she received a birthday lost in the mail months late- but God timed it right when she needed it.

Another friend, Christine, wrote of reaching just the right person in customer service. God’s timing of the call resulted in conversation leading to a personal connection through which she can share the reason for her hope.

Still another friend told me how she was frustrated with the difficulty of locating and entering a food pantry to drop off bags of rolls. She arrived just in time to witness a man sadly turned away because the available bread racks were empty. Handing him the bread, she was able to tell him God loved him with the full conviction of knowing God had timed their visits so they would meet.

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Our Lord goes before us (Deut 31:8.)

Into the garden in the spring. Into the mail system’s mess to delay cards. Into the customer service queue to connect people. Into the food pantry where a man in need of bread and the bread of life could be handed both at once.

The hope and awe bound up in recognizing God’s profound faithfulness are themes throughout Jobe’s CD. Direct praise is cultivated through “I Will Sing.” Stories of His inexplicable faithfulness ring out through “Miracles.” Awe resulting in drawing nearer to the Lord is represented through “Closer to Your Heart.”

Whether we’re waiting for the Lord to reawaken our hearts or reflecting on the majesty of God, we can be certain He is faithful. He who began the good work will complete it. He’s planned ahead. He’s gone before us and made a way.

The narrow road leads us to the abundant expanse of God’s glory. Praise be to our faithful God!


Interested in winning a copy of the CD? Comment on this post before 5pm EST of Friday, Feburary 10th!

You can also purchase a copy by clicking here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Only residents of continental U.S and Canada

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

 

Confession: I’m Not a Fan of Devotions

Soul H2O Launch Team

My love-hate relationship with devotions started in college. It was my first time immersed in a Christianese culture. I didn’t know much about Jesus, and I didn’t care about the Gospel. I just wanted to be a good person and prove myself worthy to the God I didn’t understand.

In waltzed a dorm-mate one day, announcing she was about to do her “devos.” The word weirded me out.

Since those early days and eventually getting to know Jesus as my Savior, devotions still aren’t my thing.

For me, many devotionals are frustrating because they: 

  • Preach Christian psychology or self-help instead of the Scripture I need
  • Tackle huge topics that get me thinking, but offer no resolution or practical application
  • Are super wordy, in which case just give me a whole book
  • Build day by day, and I’m not that regimented
  • Are bulky, funky, hard covers that I’m too lazy to haul around with me for daily time
  • Tempt me to worship the devotional habit instead of worshipping God

My list says a lot about me and my shortcomings.

But it also speaks volumes about one of the rare devotionals I enjoy!

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I love this devotional book- it’s the exception to most of my “anti-devotional” issues.

Soul H2O, by Sherry Stahl, is a Biblical, digestible, concise companion for straight-up Bible studying and for ordinary life.

Each devotion is 1-2 short pages. The book is soft cover, and it fits in purses, backpacks, and my car’s glovebox. You don’t have to read it every day to keep up.

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Best of all, each devotion is simple. Instead of overwhelming me, Sherry’s words just refresh. They function like the title suggests: to quench thirst for good news from the Lord.

For example, devotional #4 refers to taking “every thought captive” to Christ.

Sherry then goes on to exhort: “Choose today which thoughts you’ll play on the record player of your mind.” The devotion centers on how our thoughts repeat. The thought is simple, Biblical, and gave me practical encouragement to walk with the Lord that day.

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Each of the devotions begins with a Bible verse. Short paragraphs with brief relatable anecdotes and simple life-applicable points about the verse follow. Sherry concludes with a brief prayer and references for additional verses if you’d like to study the Word yourself.

What I appreciate most about Soul H2O is its focus:

Instead of being about big life changes and heavy topics, Soul H2O offers basic life sustenance.

Such a simple blessing, but so important. That’s why this devotion has so blessed me. It’s a cool drink to refresh my Spirit and remind me of the simple vitality the Lord offers us day by day.

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All that to say, I’m grateful to have been part of Sherry’s launch team. It is a joy to recommend Soul H2O to you. Whether you love devotionals or can’t stand them, this one is for you. Soul H2O will refresh your spirit, make you smile, and bring you to praise.

To find a copy of Soul H2O, visit Sherry’s website here.

** I received this book free from the publisher, Word Alive Press, when I joined Sherry’s launch team. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Love With All Your…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”

–Luke 10:27

Really, Lord? Because we know our hearts, and they are deceitful above all things. Our souls are constantly warring with the flesh. Strength, to us, is less preferable than weakness in you. And our minds? Our minds are so easily led astray.

It seems like our ability to love God is measly and miserable. To do so with our whole person seems to add up to very little.

Praise the Lord that He is glorified by and delights in our love- even if our love is far from perfect!

So loving is He that:

  1. He Guards the HEART We Are to Love Him With

Though our hearts are wild and rebellious, the Lord guards them. He works to protect our hearts from further corruption. He is intent on giving us pure hearts, washing them clean through Christ. Scripture also says He replaces our hearts of stone with hearts with hearts of flesh.

  1. He Redeems the SOUL So That We Can Love Him Personally

Apart from Christ, we would have no way to love God in a personal relationship. But He, in loving us, sent His son to die for us. He made a way for our souls to be reconciled to Him eternally. Because of that, our wretched souls are counted free. We are called His friends and His children –and forgiven.

  1. He Gives us the STRENGTH to Love Him Always

Does it take strength to love God? Ask anyone who’s betrayed Him or sinned against Him. So, ask anyone. There is nothing in us courageous enough to perfectly stand up against the world and all of sin and say “I love God more.” But He, He can makes us able. He makes a way out of temptation. He gives us endurance and His Spirit to keep us from sin and help us to lovingly glorify Him even when we are weak.

  1. He Renews Our MIND to Love Him More Fully

Romans 12:2 tells us that if we are to live according to His Will, and even to know His Will, we are to have our minds renewed. We are to see everything in light of Him and understand ourselves, our lives, our decisions, etc., according to our newness in Christ. This complete changing of the mind to fit with His enables to love Him because it enables us to know Him.

What love is this, friends!? Our Lord loves us enough to make a way for us to love Him despite our corrupt version of love. A precious gift.

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory

It Is(n’t) What It Is

Photo from: www.armstrongeconomics.com

The phrase has been floating around for years. It came to my attention as friends of mine from different circles and walks of life spoke the words. I noticed the phrase on television and the radio. Then I saw it on decorative signs in a couple of stores.

So I tried it on for awhile.

What I found was that “it is what it is” can be a euphemism or a platitude that keeps us from recognizing what “it” isn’t. There is nothing wrong with accepting reality –except that so often our sense of reality isn’t the same as the Lord’s.

The words “it is what it is” bear the sort of powerful finality and magnitude as God’s Words: I AM who I AM. They suggest to us that our circumstance are sovereign and all that is to be done in response is to obey. If only we responded to the Lord’s declaration of sovereignty with the obedience we give to this phrase.

When we speak that much loved phrase, we are often actually saying:

  • So deal with it
  • Suck it up
  • Forget changing anything
  • Not my responsibility
  • Too much work to alter this reality
  • There’s nothing to be done about this
  • If it is, that must be God’s will and I’m stuck

I struggle to find support for these attitudes -as enticing as they can be- in Scripture. And believe me, as one whose biggest pet-peeve is complaining about something you are unwilling to change, these words are tempting.

This phrase appears to relieve us of the need to stress out, to fight what we can’t beat, and to fret over what we don’t have control over. But so do these (much more powerful) words:

  1. IT IS…All The Lord’s
The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” Psalm 24:1
  1. IT IS…Up to the Lord
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” –Daniel 2:20-22
  1. IT IS…In the Care of the Lord
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:27
  1. IT IS…Present Before the Lord
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Philippians 4:6

…Not only is “it,” but so are you and I.

As we read these statements, we are reminded that what “it is” is His.

When we begin the phrase “it is,” there is more power in remembering that things can change.

That there is one in charge.

That He cares to hear our prayers and concerns.

That the war is won.

That when we need to live through difficult things, we need not live resigned- “it” can be well with our soul because He is I AM.

This post is being shared on: #LifeGivingLinkup #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, and #TellHiStory.