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Little Moments of Grace

Six weeks into 2013.

How’s those resolutions going?  Perhaps at the cusp of the New Year, some of us were

reviewing the year,

regretting mistakes,

re-thinking goals,

and resolving to change..

But why do we keep repeating the pattern every year?

We long to make some dramatic difference in our lives, checkbooks, children, spouses, selves, homes, or whatever.  Or at least, I do.  I want that big “reveal” at the end of the year, or my lifetime, to show  visible improvement, growth, and purpose.  It’s taken me a long time to learn that life is not about the drama or applause.

Life is played out in the everyday moments, minutes, reactions, choices, and responses.

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Paul David Tripp discussed this in one of his recent articles:

“The character that was formed in those little moments is what shapes how you respond to the big moments of life.

What leads to significant personal change?

  • 10,000 moments of personal insight and conviction
  • 10,000 moments of humble submission
  • 10,000 moments of foolishness exposed and wisdom gained
  • 10,000 moments of sin confessed and sin forsaken
  • 10,000 moments of courageous faith
  • 10,000 choice points of obedience
  • 10,000 times of forsaking the kingdom of self and running toward the kingdom of God
  • 10,000 moments where we abandon worship of the creation and give ourselves to worship of the Creator.

And what makes all of this possible?

Relentless, transforming, little-moment grace….”

(From Paul Tripp Ministries, PaulTripp. com)

Oswald Chambers said much the same over 100 years ago in his famous devotional, My Utmost for His Highest :

“It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God: but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes”

So, even though it’s February, can we still do this?  Is it too late to turn little moments into blessings, the ordinary into the exceptional?

Pick a day, some odd day on the calendar, like February 10th, and choose to make your moments matter.  It’s not about lists of resolutions.   It’s about moments of choices.

Breathe a prayer.

Obey that still small voice.

Let a kind answer turn away a harsh word.

Forgive.

Little moments of grace….

weave a path to His glory and honour.

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Starting February off on a Good Note

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;   His mercies never come to an end;  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”        Lamentations 3:22, 23 (ESV)

I haven’t shared any new songs for awhile, so today offers as good a reason as any to post a new one.   The lyrics for Have Mercy on Me are below, and the graceful melody is in the Music Box.  If you like the song, there are a lot more on the album, The Gathering, available at Amazon or Sovereign Grace Music (I get no absolutely no profit from them 🙂 )  Blessings!!

Have Mercy on Me

I am a sinner; You’re blameless,

Lord My sins against You can’t be ignored

They will be punished, I know they must

Your law demands it, for You are just.

If You would count everything that I’ve done wrong

Who could stand? But there’s forgiveness with You, God!

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Chorus

Have mercy on me, have mercy on me

A broken and a contrite heart You won’t turn away

Have mercy on me, have mercy on me

Because of Your steadfast love.

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Father of mercy, You gave Your Son

To make atonement for wrongs I have done

What You required,  Jesus fulfilled

I don’t deserve it—I never will! *

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We love and worship you today, Dear Father, for the new mercies you have in store for us, today, this month, this year.  Each morning we awake to a loving Father who desires good for us.  Each evening we can sleep well, knowing you never sleep, keeping a watchful eye over your children.   Through such comfort, I hope and pray that we can trust you more. Why do we draw away, why do we not run to you?  Help us to lean on you with absolute trust and reliance.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

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from The Gathering: Live from WorshipGod11.  Music and words by Pat Sczebel and Dale Bischof © 2011 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Christmas Carols Grace Notes – 2

[This article was first posted on Dec 13, 2010.  Sharing it again, because the song is That good. Blessings!]

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Is the world listening to the carols of the season, ignoring them, or simply apathetic to their content?

How much more intense could the gospel message be, than to declare the sufferings of Jesus through concrete visuals like “nails…spear…pierce…and Cross?” Yet that’s what this modest, lilting, 17th century Celtic melody proclaims with bold lyrics penned by William Chatterton Dix (1865).

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What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and lamb are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

         Raise, raise a song on high,
         The virgin sings her lullaby.
         Joy, joy for Christ is born,
         The Babe, the Son of Mary.

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One reason the world doesn’t hear this gospel message is that many recording artists simply skip over the second stanza about Jesus’ suffering.   Perhaps they think the verse doesn’t lend itself to the joyful Christmas spirit.  Or maybe they don’t embrace its meaning..or the cross.

Thankfully, Third Day sings the entire song on their CD, Christmas Offerings.  I just uploaded their track of today’s carol in the music box so you can listen along, and worship, not just the Babe, but the Word made flesh and our King of Kings!

[Bebo Norman also sings a beautiful rendition of this, but, disappointedly, he omitted the crucial second stanza.  But I still love his testimony, voice and music, so I uploaded his version from the newly released CD, Christmas from the Realms of Glory (Extended Edition) . ]

Happiness Strikes

What a delight this video is!  Coca-Cola is doing this ‘thing’ called Happiness Strikes, blessing random people with random happy events.  This video follows three sweet people from the Philippines living in the United States, who are reunited with their familes through the efforts of the Coca-Cola Company.

Of course, while I believe Jesus Christ alone made the ultimate “Happiness Strike” by becoming a child–

..made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone….

–the giant beverage company does a fair job bringing a smile to many, and tears to these eyes.

I dedicate this to my long-distance, grace-filled and beautiful Filipino friend, Lidia, who blogs at Crown of Beauty.   This is sent with love and prayers for you, dear sister, and a desire for the good news of Jesus to resound and be received by many precious Filipino people, reconciling them to our loving Father and striking them with Joy unspeakable and full of glory!  Love you Lidia!

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On breaks, no condemnation, Christmas, and Folk Angels

Hello! Remember me?

I’ve been away from blogging waaay too long (over 4 months!) and I’m not even sure how to do this anymore!   I’ve been away so long, that I actually considered quitting blogging all together–after all, who’s NOT blogging these days, so are my two cents really necessary?  And if I keep blogging, where do I start? Should I explain myself, my absence, my life, or just hit the proverbial deck running?  And then, what about all the things I’ve been musing on, mulling over, journalling, or events that have either broken my heart with cries, tears and grief, or encouraged me to die more to self and live more for Him?

Seriously, if I consider any of these options right now, I’d rather close my laptop and procrastinate a few more months. Instead, I really need to ease back into this, so I’m going to focus on all the wonder, hope, and Joy of Christmas!  Everything else can wait…

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Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

  (Romans 8:1-3)

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Romans 8 may seem like an unlikely Christmas passage, but it’s a perfect reminder about “the reason for the Season;”  God sent His own Son into the world as a sin offering for us!  Such a proclamation required angles upon angels to sing of the Wonder!  Oh, Holy Night!

The artists who’ve recorded this carol is nearly innumerable, but the ones I love hearing are a bit more limited–John Denver, Clay Aiken, Josh Groban, to mention a few.  And now, Folk Angel!  Yes, let me introduce you to Folk Angel, a band who has already released three Christmas CDs.  This is from their website:

Our desire as a band is to make known the greatness of Jesus Christ and to exalt Him through the music that we create. We write and rearrange traditional Christmas songs, and through that creative process we retell the Gospel story that illuminates all things.

Their music fulfills their mission!  Click on the album cover to view or purchase their music.  And you can listen to “O Holy Night” in the Music Box above.

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O Holy Night

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

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Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,

Here came the wise men from Orient land.

The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,

In all our trials born to be our friend!

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Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His Gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother

And in His Name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy Name!

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Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!

O night, O holy night, O night divine!

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… Oh yes, and I promise I won’t be away for another 4 months…

Scales of Suffering?

Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Psalm 30:1

Do you think God won’t help you find your keys because it’s not a big enough concern?  There are more important things to Him, such as feeding the poor, defeating the Taliban, hovering over cancer wards, or preparing the world for Jesus’ return, right?  So why would He bother to help find those keys?

Or maybe, when a migraine, cold, fever, or a yucky flu bug brings you down,  do you silently doubt that God will answer your prayer for healing, because, after all, “it’s not cancer”?

If so, welcome to my world!

I constantly gauge my needs, pain, or “suffering” by other’s.  In fact, I even had a hard time writing the word “suffering” because I don’t really think I know what it is—in comparison to rest of the world.  If you’re like me, you may be encouraged by reading this article, No More Minimizing Pain, by Ed Welch of Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF):

“There is no suffering gauge in Scripture, as if being burned at the stake scores a 100, Stage IV cancer is an 85, a broken friendship is a 50 and uncomfortable shoes are a 5.  If there were such a system, a person whose suffering topped out at 80 would have to defer to the one who measures 81.   The one with the less severe suffering would have to suffer in silence. He or she would have no right to seek the comfort of others or God.  To do so would be hogging time that could be better used by more qualified sufferers.  
Dr. Ed Welch, CCEF

I wish I had written this!  But I couldn’t, because I live in the comparison world of meters, gauges, and deference.  I question if my suffering is even on the charts!! Maybe a .003 on the scale of world-wide problems.  Those lost keys, forget about them.  And no hope for my headache as long as a thousands of parents are visiting their children in Pediatric Cancer wards.  But, Dr. Welch goes on to say,

“The danger in establishing a pecking order within suffering is that you feel authorized to call out to the Lord when things are really bad, but you remain isolated and silent if your pain is below the national average.”

So the biggest fault, or sin, of minimizing pain and suffering is that it keeps us from calling on the Lord. And, for me, this attitude creates a dangerously false god, who doesn’t want me to bother Him unless it’s really Bad…somewhere between 75-100.

What a dreadful trap to fall into, even though it appears rather noble.  It reveals my lack of understanding of God’s love and unbounded mercy.

“..when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
2 Corinthians 10:12

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The entire article may be found HERE.   Thank you, Dr. Welch!

Timely Word for the Journey

My favourite Christian author, preacher, writer, and teacher is Charles H. Spurgeon.  Anyone who’s read my blog for even a week has probably figured that one out!  The devotional I’ve worn out for the past 7 years is Morning by Morning.  Each page offers insight, encouragement, and Scriptures that always point to Jesus.  His daily meditations have never ceased to offer timely words for my journey.

Sometimes I share little blurbs, other time composites of Spurgeon thought, but today I must share the devotional in its entirety.  It’s That good!  May it connect with someone’s heart and need today, and lift up a weary pilgrim along the way:

“He led them forth by the right way.”  Psalm 107:9

Changing circumstances often causes the anxious believer to ask, “Why is this happening to me?” I looked for light, but darkness came; for peace, but faced trouble. I said in my heart, my mountain stands firm, I shall never be moved.  Lord, You hide Your face, and I am troubled. Only yesterday I could read my title clearly; but today my evidences are blurred, and my hopes are clouded.  Yesterday I could climb the mountain and view the landscape and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance; today my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but great distress.

Is this part of God’s plan for me? Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven?

Yes, it is even so. The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope–all these things are just parts of God’s method of making you ready for the great inheritance, which you will soon enjoy.

These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith–they are waves that wash you further upon the rock–they are winds that steer your ship more quickly toward the desired haven. What David wrote then will be true of you: “He brought them to their desired haven” (verse 30). By honor and dishonor, by evil report and by good report, by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress, by persecution and by peace–by all these things your spiritual life is maintained, and by each of these you are helped on your way.

Do not think, believer, that your sorrows are out of God’s plan; they are necessary parts of it. “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom.” Learn, then, to “count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds.”

O let my trembling soul be still,
And trust Thy wise, Thy holy will!
I cannot, Lord, Thy purpose see,
Yet all is well since ruled by Thee.

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If you would like some daily encouragement from Spurgeon, you can buy his devotionals HERE, or read it online HERE.