Love this song. May it bless you tonight.
Love this song. May it bless you tonight.
Do I Throw it Away, Give it Away, or Sell it? That’s the question I want to ask you today.
For the past few days, we have been purging a whole lot of items in our house. Items that we no longer use, need, or want. Items that have been taking up residence in a cabinet or a closet, that we haven’t used or even thought about for years. Toys that our little girl no longer uses or plays with. Clothes that don’t fit, or are out of style. All sorts of items have made their way out of our house.
Some of it we have sold. Some of it we have given away. Some of it we have thrown away. I am constantly amazed at the things that people will buy. You’ve done it – right? You’ve bought someone else’s trash, and the circle of recycling begins.
I am in awe of how much stuff we’ve had in our house. I am almost ashamed of the amount of possessions we have. We went through our closet, and got rid of half of our clothes, and it still looks full. Today, I cleaned out all my drawers from my dresser – had 2 garbage bags full of clothes to donate, and when I put items back in the drawers they were still full.
And then there’s the action of going through things and asking the question “Do I really want to get rid of that? I may need it again one day…” The stuff we need to get rid of our lives is a lot like what we’ve done the past few days – we throw it away, we give it away, or we sell it.
We carry a lot of junk around in our lives. The sin we have in our lives, well, we know that we need to throw it away. That’s what the Bible tells us in Hebrews 12:1. It says “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”
Throw it away – throw away the sin that so easily entangles. Throw it out. Get rid of it.
Giving it Away:
Psalm 55:22 tells us to give our burdens to God. It states: “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” (NLT)
Now, there are some things that God places on us to bear. Just like Paul had to bear the thorn in his flesh, we have things God has placed on us, for a variety of reasons. But there are some things which Satan has placed on us, or perhaps even worse – we have placed upon ourselves. If you can’t bear it – give it to God.
Its always fun to sell things and make a little extra “pocket money.”
In essence, we sold our sins to Jesus. And just like when we sell our junk to others and get a sense of satisfaction knowing its off our hands and someone else is going to take it away for us, our sins are just like that.
Our sins were bought with a hefty price. Do you remember the old gospel hymn:
Gone is all my debt of sin,
A great change is wrought within,
And to live I now begin,
Risen from the fall;
Yet the debt I did not pay—
Someone died for me one day,
Sweeping all the debt away—
Jesus paid it all.
Jesus died and paid it all, yes,
On the cross of Calvary,
And my stony heart was melted
At His dying, dying call;
Oh, His heart in shame was broken
On the tree for you and me, yes,
And the debt, the debt is canceled,
Jesus paid it, paid it all.
Jesus did pay it all. He came in bought everything from me. He came in and bought things I didn’t even know I wanted to let go of. In fact, the price he paid was more than I ever dreamed of asking. But he didn’t mind.
So what things in your life do you need to throw away, or give away, or sell?
Life happens, right? People mess up, people get sick, tragedy happens. There’s no stopping it in this fallen world we live in – so the question has to be asked: How do I hold it all together? How do I keep from falling apart? How do I keep on keeping on?
We were sitting in the upper section of Bridgestone Arena. Every time the Casting Crowns are nearby, we try to go hear them in concert. There’s something about this Christian band – its not that their songs are typical “worship” songs like Crowder and Tomlin sing. The songs they sing are lessons. They are stories. And if you have never heard Mark Hall crack jokes and teach – you are missing out.
We had just been through a rotten week. Our lives had been turned upside down in a few different ways. We were hurt, scared, anxious, and my mind was racing 8000 miles a minute.
Until about 5 songs in to their part of the concert – I hadn’t really been there. My mind was elsewhere. Sure, they sang a few of their popular songs to start with, and my heart felt joy listening. But then, off their newest album, they sang this song:
If you don’t want to watch the video, you’re missing out on the beautiful music that accompanies these words. But if you just want to read – read these words carefully:
“Just Be Held”
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go
There, about 45 rows from the floor of Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN – my heart burst, as well as my eyes. I have a feeling these words may be able to offer you a big helping of relief like it did for me.
Today may God hold you. May God encourage you. May God assure you that He has the answers, He holds the future, and He loves you. May you let go of the pressures, the stress, the problems, and let God take them over. May you let God rule your heart, instead of letting fear do so.
I walked out of the concert, emotionally broken, vulnerable, and fragile – but knowing that God had already started strengthening me. Be broken today, and let God paint beauty with the ashes. In time, we’ll understand.
I don’t know about you, but in a world where we get upset with each other so very quickly, and anger seems to immediately turn to hate – its a painful reminder that God’s greatest command to us is simply this: Love.
The Bible is full of commands. Especially in the Old Testament. But when Jesus is asked in the New Testament which command was the greatest, which command out of all of those things they had been taught all of their lives was the most important – Here’s what Jesus said –
“Love God. Love others”
But there are two things we must consider – how do we love God and how do we love others?
The Bible tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, might, strength – or another way to say it is to love God with your everything.
Your will, your desires, your passions, your affections, your perceptions, your thoughts – We love God from within but also our entire being, our soul, the thing that makes us who we are – how we walk, how we talk, how we think, how we use our talents, how we react – our entire being is to display that we love God.
We need to love God not only with our physical muscle but with everything we have available for honoring God – which includes our spouse, our children, our house, our wardrobe, our tools, our cell phones, our movies and music, our computers, our time.
Every part of who we are – should be showing love to God. So that’s how we are to love God, but what about that “others” part.
I love my wife. I love my daughter. I love my mother and father. I love my brother and sister, and their spouses, and their kids. I love my family. I love my friends. Those friends of mine that I can call up at anytime and talk, go eat lunch with, hang out with. I love you. I love the church.
So you see the trend here. I love people I’m close to, that I’ve gotten to know, or that i have respect for.
But – How do I love my enemies?
Throughout history, people tend to make their enemies less than human. Its not any different for us really – we tend to view criminals, our enemies, and those we don’t like, as less than human. When we dehumanize others, its much easier to justify hatred. But I want you to Look at the example Jesus gave us in Luke 19:41-44
41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
He knew what Rome would do to his fellow Jews in Jerusalem as he wept over the city. The people he was about to die for, didn’t love him. He loved the people who were about to kill him. He wept for them.
In the OT Jonah was asked to preach a message of salvation to people he despised. I think loving our enemies looks like that. The Ninevites were vile, horrible people. Jonah never got over God’s wanting to forgive & bless them.
Loving your enemies is being willing to be a conduit of God’s grace to another, even when they have brought you pain and suffering .
The world may cry “Why?” But we know the real reason God tells us to love others. Its because HE loves us – and HE wants us to be like HIM.
On the computer keyboard that I use, the “Command” key is used as a shortcut. I type command plus c and it copies. I type command plus v and it pastes. But when God says that love is the greatest command, we realize quickly there is no shortcut in love.
The New Testament says in I Corinthians 13 that if I have eloquence, if I preach with power, if I have monstrous faith, if I give away all my possessions to the poor – it doesn’t amount to anything if I don’t have love.
You know what else it says: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
This is not just a passage for the minister to read at weddings. This is a national anthem for us as Christians – when we look at the Greatest Command which is love – this is the description of the love God commands!!
We understand loving family and friends. But the enemy part is much harder. Take 5 minutes and watch this moving video:
Jesus was hanging on the cross. On either side of him were criminals. Roman soldiers who didn’t know Jesus were just doing their job, following orders.
Jewish leaders, the ones who would have crucified Jesus themselves if the law didn’t prohibit it. They hated Jesus.
There was a crowd of people – some who used to follow Jesus around and listen to his message of love and forgiveness. They used to cry “Hosanna” and now they shouted “Crucify Him”
And our Lord says “Father – forgive them.” And then he dies for them.
And for us. For you, and for me.
Jesus is standing in front of you today – he has his arms wide open, ready to love you, no matter what it is you’ve done. And when I say no matter what, I mean no matter what.
He loves you – do you love Him?
When I married Kristen nearly 10 year ago, I wrote her a poem that was called “I Love You Because…”, and in it I try to list all the reasons why I love my beautiful bride.
When you love someone, there is a reason you love them. When you love someone, there are things about them that cause you to have feelings for them. There are things that trigger that emotion, maybe at first its the way they look, or a friendship that develops, an attitude, but there is something that causes that initial attraction.
When you have a child, the “because” or “why” is a little different. You love them because they’re your child. You love them because they were given to you. For some of you, you love them because you have to…
So I’ve been thinking about this over and over again – why does God love me? If God were going to write me a poem and tell me why He loves me, you know what I think He’d say? He’d simply say “I love you”.
Because you see, when God says He loves me, there is no because. God just loves me.
John 3:16 states “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting, eternal life.”
Romans 5:8 states “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
You see, God doesn’t love us BECAUSE we did anything, or because of who we are, He just loves us.
Today, live you day knowing that our God, the Supreme Creator of the Universe, the One who gave us life, the One who gave us emotions, friendships, family, the One who gave us HIS Only Begotten Son – loves us.
“How He Loves Me”
He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
And oh, how He loves us, oh,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all
And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about the way He loves me.
-How He Loves Me- Original Words by John Mark McMillan, rewritten by David Crowder
I love this letter to God from a child –
“Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying.”
So simple, yet so overwhelmingly powerful. But is it true for you?
How would your day be radically transformed if this statement was true for you? So often, we only think about God:
1. When we get ready for church
2. When we are at church
3. When we pray for a meal
4. When we tell our child that God doesn’t like what he/she is doing
5. When something good or bad happens
6. When/if we pray, study the Bible
But how would it change your day if scattered throughout, you just stopped and thought about God’s love? God’s grace? God’s mercy? God’s awesomeness? God’s power?
There’s a difference between thinking about God and praying to God. I think about my wife and my daughter often, but I’m not speaking to them. I think about them because I love them so much, and they occupy my thoughts throughout the day. Does God have that same impact on you?
Read this verse – and think about God.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)
There’s a park here in Sugar Land called Oyster Creek Park. It has a fantastic running trail that weaves in and out of wooded areas along the creek for about 4 1/2 miles. I used to run over there all the time, but now I’ve gotten lazy and just run in our neighborhood. It had been a while since we’d been over to the park, so this morning Josie and I loaded up on the bicycle and rode over there to play on the playground and see the turtles. We played on the playground for a while and ate a snack, then got back on the bicycle to go a little further down the trail to the bridge where the turtles swim. I was shocked as we got close enough to see that the creek was COMPLETELY dried up. We haven’t had significantly measurable rain in the Houston area in over 250 days, so I don’t know why I didn’t expect this. It was really sad. There used to be hundreds of turtles swimming around in the water. We did see one turtle out in the middle of the trail, obviously looking for water. If I’d known somewhere to take him, I would have. The whole place smelled like death and there was a big group of vultures in the middle of the dried-up creek bed.
But at least it presented a “teaching moment” for Josie. I told her we needed to pray and ask God to send some rain so the turtles can swim again. She said “Okay, tonight when I go to bed and we say our prayer, I’ll ask God to send rain for the turtles.” So, then I got to teach her that we don’t have to pray just at mealtimes or at night before we go to bed. I told her that God can hear our prayers anywhere at anytime. So, we said a prayer right there while riding on a bicycle together. Then she asked me “Where is God?” and I was relieved when she accepted the answer, “God is everywhere! He’s all around us!”. Not sure if I’m ready for deep, theological questions yet!
Majority of the state of Texas is in a severe drought. The city of Houston is starting to regulate water usage. People can only water their lawns on certain days and at certain times. We’re encouraged to take 5 minute (or less) showers, which I’d be happy to do if they could increase the water pressure so I can rinse the soap off faster! Unfortunately, meteorologists don’t see an end in sight unless we get a tropical storm this direction. So, please pray that God will send some rain (even in the form of a tropical storm!) to Texas!
Last night when I said goodnight to Josie, she said “I’m sorry the creek is all dried up and the turtles don’t have anywhere to swim.” I told her to pray to God for rain so the turtles could swim again. She said with a smile – OKAY!
She woke up this morning, and at breakfast she busted out into a spontaneous prayer, and again, prayed for rain for the turtles.
Oh how faithful God is, because he sent some rain this way after a sweet and devoted faithful girl prayed to Him for rain. How great is our God indeed.
Recently, my grandfather passed away. While at the visitation and the funeral, gathered around family, we were all reminded that he never had anything negative to say about others. He didn’t speak in an angry way. He loved life and loved others. This was an excellent lesson he taught us, but one that Jesus taught as well.
Its easy to love people who treat you well. However, how do you love someone who doesn’t treat you well? The kid in school who makes fun of you? The boss who takes credit for your work, or blames you for things going wrong? Those people are a bit harder to love.
Jesus tells the Pharisees in Matthew 5:43-48 they are to love their neighbor, but also love their enemy. The King James goes on to say “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” We know Jesus wants us to love our neighbor, that’s for sure. He tells us over and over again. However, the Jewish Rabbis taught that their “neighbor” only applied to fellow Jews. This worked out well because the Jews pretty much hated everyone else. The Romans actually accused and charged the Jews with hatred of the human race.
The problem is that the Old Testament, or no where in the Bible in fact, tells us to hate our enemies. There are places in the Old Testament where God hates evil, and may not care for the evildoer, but he never commands his people to hate their enemies. We are to shower them with unconditional kindness.
I heard a story about Wade Boggs, former third baseman for the Boston Red Sox. He hated playing at Yankee Stadium while playing for Boston, not because of the Yankees but because of one particular fan. This fan would heckle him, yell out insults and profanities. One day, Boggs had listened to this enough. He walked over to the area where this guy was, looked at him, and asked “Are you the guy that is always yelling at me?”. The fan responded “Yeah, what are you gonna do about it?”
Wade Boggs took a new baseball, signed it, and threw it up for the guy to have. The guy never heckled Boggs again. In fact, he became one of his biggest supporters.
That’s what we are urged to do with our enemies. Find a way to show them love, especially the love of Christ in all we do. God is going to bless everyone on this earth, whether they believe in him or not. He sends the rain and the sun to bless even his enemies by common grace (vs 45). We need to love people without discrimination like God loves us. We also need to love our enemies because we need to show there is no greater love than Christian love.
On Sunday, July 10, 2011, my Granddaddy Widick passed from this earth. I had the daunting task of being one who would officiate at his funeral. Below are the words I shared with the crowd gathered. These words were from the perspective of his 7 grandchildren, written in letter form to the greatest Granddaddy in the world.
I hope that all of us have made you proud. You worked so hard to get this family started. We know that you loved us all so very much.
I have a few confessions to make. First, one day when I was very little, I walked down into your basement and was playing around with some of your tools on your massive workbench. I found an oil can. I had never seen one like this. It looked like the one Dorothy used on the tin man in the “Wizard of Oz”. I grabbed it and pretended everything down stairs was the tin man, and gave it a good oiling. Sorry about the mess, but at least nothing squeaked anymore.
I also would always forget to turn the shop light off in your basement. I was always fascinated by the pull string that had the doughnut shaped ring to it. You could always see if the light was left on or not by looking down through the vent next to your chair in the den.
I know we all as grandchildren loved you very much. We want to thank you. Thank you for letting us play and hang out with you in your basement. We were always fascinated by it. I can vividly remember everything about the basement you were so proud of at the house on Darden. Walking in to your little office, where you had your small sofa, a little 13 inch television set (which you got as a Christmas Present one year from your children), one of 4000 puzzles laid out that you were always working on, and your pipe. OH, how you always smelled so special with that pipe smell. I remember a small black and gold radio you had on a shelf behind the couch. I remember finding reasons to go and wash my hands in your special little sink in the basement. The water was always ice cold.
We were always impressed by the enormous collection of aluminum cans as we would go up the stairs. We were also always fascinated by all the different and unique knick knacks you would keep in the unfinished ceiling of the basement. I think each of us found something new everytime we looked.
There wasn’t a time we remember when we didn’t look at your birthmarks on your arm. We’re sorry, but we were so impressed! You also always had ink stains on your hands from working so hard to provide for us. I know you had to be exhausted after you would get home from work, but whenever you came home when we would spend the night with you, you always took time for us. We don’t recall you ever being too tired to get down on the floor with us and play. Even in your last days, we saw you playing with our own children, loving them and holding them dearly, being so proud to be a great granddaddy.
You got us back though, for all the times we aggravated you. Every time you saw one of us you would come up to us and do one of a few things:
You would grab our arm, and squeeze right between our muscle and our bone. It wouldn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel good. You also had the ability to grab that tender spot just above our knee when we would sit beside you, and squeeze just hard enough. You also loved to count all of our ribs, and you would get us all as you tickled us.
However, all those things were just in fun. We know you loved to pick on us. But you also showed us your love in the simplest things. You would always hand crank the best ice cream out on the deck. From the wonderfully thick and sweet chocolate ice cream to perfect as could be peach ice cream, you knew just how many times to crank that ice cream. As Jackson put it last night to me, I don’t think anyone else was strong enough to do it but you.
John 14:1-4 Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled. If we believe in God; believe also in Jesus. His Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would he have told us that He was going there to prepare a place for us? And if he is going and preparing a place for us, he will come back and take us to be with Him that we also may be where He is. We know the way to the place where He is going.
There’s one problem with this verse, granddady. Some of our fondest memories of being with you were in the back yard, sitting on the cedar swing with you, walking around the yard looking at your plants and flowers, and most importantly – the annual Easter Egg hunt. You would walk around and help each of your grandchildren find the eggs that were hidden a little tougher than they should have been.
We know you’ve moved on. But the problem is you probably don’t care too much about the room Jesus prepared for you. You probably care more about the backyard. We know you’ve probably already started a garden at the home Jesus prepared for you. You’re probably even giving Jesus tips on how to make flowers and tomatoes grow a little fuller and a little riper.
Our memories of you will forever live in our hearts. Yesterday, as we gathered as a family in this room before guests started to arrive to honor you, I was reminded of the great legacy that you have to your name. I looked around and was reminded of God’s word to Abraham when he promised him that he would become a great nation – We are a great nation as a family devoted to God, all because of the care and kindness of this wonderful man.
Indeed, each of the grandkids heard you threaten with the phrase “You see that ‘mean’ in my eye? I know I would try to find it, but would never succeed in seeing it. None of us ever could. Admit it granddaddy, there was no mean in your eye, only love. But granddaddy, do you see that tear in my eye? Its real, and its there because you’re gone.
May we all walk daily in the footsteps of Jesus as you did. May we all be the examples to our own families as you always were to us. May we find comfort in knowing you’re with a Savior who always walked with you. May we continue to live out the legacy you began for this Widick family. We know we will see you again one day, and can’t wait to see what kind of backyard you will have grown using that heavenly soil.
I have to preface this post. I have never been a big fan of U2, not because I have anything against them, but because I’ve just never gotten into their music. However, I do know that Bono is probably one of the kindest, most compassionate men that is walking the face of the earth in this present day.
Recently, my good friend Jason Bybee went to a U2 concert in Nashville. You can read of his previous attempts to make it to a U2 show HERE. On several occasions Jason has offered up some great suggestions for must have music for my iPod, so I was eager to talk to him after the concert to see how it went, and to see if I could finally get into U2. This time, Jason had nothing to do with me becoming a fan of U2 and new music. It was the artist himself that forever changed my impression of this dynamic band. Read the article below:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A blind man from Arizona had a lifelong dream come true when he was invited by Bono to jam with Irish rock band U2 on stage, myFOXphoenix.com reported Tuesday.
Adam Bevell, who started losing his sight at the age of 14, caught Bono’s attention at a U2 concert in Nashville over the long weekend.
Towards the close of the show, the band’s frontman spotted Bevell holding a sign declaring “blind guitar player,” indicating that the fan wanted to play and dedicate a song to his wife.
“[Bono] said ‘C’mon up here. Get this dude a guitar,’ and I thought no way man, there’s no way this is happening,” Bevell recalled.
INFphoto.comBono of U2.
“Dude’s gonna play some guitar,” Bono told the crowd.
With some help from Bono, Bevell performed his favorite song “All I Want Is You.”
“It was the greatest feeling knowing that I was playing with the greatest rock star in the world but he didn’t make me feel like that at all, he made me feel like we were in our living room,” Bevell said, adding that playing with U2 was something he had on his bucket list.
Bono is known for his generosity and humanitarian work around the world and he did not disappoint in this case — he let Bevell keep the guitar.
Bevell, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona, has been to at least 20 U2 concerts over the years.
You can watch the whole performance by watching the video below:
This guy was given a gift at the end of this wonderful ride of a lifetime that no one else can say they’ve ever received, and that’s pretty cool.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take an opportunity here to make a correlation between this and a similar gift that I’ve received. The greatest and most compassionate man to EVER walk on the face of the earth gave me an even better gift. Jesus Christ, the perfect, sinless Savior, gave me a few things – his life, his heart, and salvation for an eternity – and I think that trumps the guitar. The cool thing about the gift that Jesus gave me is that its not just for me, but its for us all.