I Know Who I Am

I Know Who I Am by Israel Houghton and New Breed has been stuck in my head for days now, so I have to post about it. It’s a great worship song, very simple and easy to learn. It’s infectious and will brighten any mood!

Enjoy!

CHORUS:
I know who I am
I know who I am
I know who I am
I am Yours, I am Yours

I know who I am
I know who I am
I know who I am
I am yours, I am yours

And you are mine
Jesus you are mine
You are mine
Jesus you are mine

VERSE:
I was running and you found me
I was blinded and you gave me sight
You put a song of praise in me

I was broken and you healed me
I was dying and you gave me life
Lord you are my identity
And I know, I know

BRIDGE:
I am forgiven
I am your friend
I am accepted, I know who I am
(I know who I am)
I am secured, I’m confident,
That I am loved, I know who I am
(I know who I am)
I am alive
I’ve been set free
I belong to you and you belong to me

Oh oh
Oh oh
Hey

Years’ Review and Promise

I’ve just wrapped up about 2 hours of journaling and prayer, carefully considering this past year and glancing very quickly forward to the next. I won’t set specific goals, but rather, I now restate and recommit to the priorities that have elevated themselves in my attention and awareness these past eight years of my walk with Christ:

God

Health

Relationships

Objects

(GHRO)

I think my time this morning is summed up by the CEV version of The verse of today (Christmas day), Isaiah 9:6:

A child has been born FOR us. We have been given a son who will be our ruler. His names will be Wonderful Advisor and Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace. 

(Personal peace, I think that is.)

My thanks to you for riding along with me on this journey – I hope you will continue onward, with as much anticipation for what’s next (“good” or “bad”) as I feel!

With love,

Marshall

I’m Sure, I’m Assured

park-bench
There’s a meme floating around social media – a picture of a simple park bench with the prompt something like, “You and one person, living or dead: who would you choose?” The idea has always intrigued me.

In my way back, I would’ve picked King Arthur – or the one who most closely embodied that legend. But that was before I found Christ – or, more accurately, He found me. (I just became aware that He was there.) I admit, sitting and chatting with Jesus Christ would be quite the experience.

But I have someone very different in mind, and it’s not so much who as exactly when in his life I would want to meet him. I would love to meet Abram or the newly-renamed Abraham – before Isaac was born. (Genesis 17:5).

I am changing your name from Abram [meaning “exalted father”] to Abraham [sounds like “father of a multitude” in Hebrew] because I am making you a father of many [a host/multitude of] nations.
(EXB version)

Genesis 12:2-3
I will… make you … bless you …

12:7
I will give this land to your descendants…

13:15-16
All this land that you see I will give to you and your descendants… I will make your descendants as many as the dust of the earth…

See, Abram had absolutely nothing but God’s promise at this point in his life. In comparison, I look out from my snug, smug vantage point of 2016 at millenia of Arabic (Ishmael), Jewish, and Christian history, with God’s Word in many translations at the touch of my finger, and a multitude of like-minded believers to back me up whenever I feel the slightest doubt. But what did Abram have?

img_3518Certainly, he’d seen that there was a “land” where this apparition of God said there was, but that seems to be the only hard evidence. Maybe he could assume a little from Ishmael’s birth (proving that he could have children) but Sarai/Sarah was 90 years old – well beyond child-bearing age. I would ask Abram, “How much doubt do you feel?”

When I began thinking about today’s post, I had two words in mind: “sure” (as in “sure of myself”) and “assured” (“assured from outside myself”). Both are adjectives. But assured is also a verb.

Sure (adj) Confident in what one thinks or knows;
having no doubt that one is right

Assured (adj) 1: Confident
2: Protected against discontinuance or change

Assure (v) 2: Make something certain to happen

1: tell someone something positively or confidently to dispel any doubts they have

“To remove doubt”

img_0752It’s this idea of “from within” versus “from without” that I’m trying to get across. I’ve been “sure of myself”. Before I became a Christian, I felt that way – about some of my skills. But losing that security was part of my downward slide to rock-bottom. I had nothing to back it up.

“Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

You might say that life just happened to me. I have lived a lifetime of things I did not plan on or expect. As a Christian, I’ve come to understand this cliche in another way:

Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.

You might say that I am “sure that I am assured” to obtain and accomplish all that God has planned for me. It’s an entirely different point of view. It’s not self-confidence, as I used to understand it – that I will make my plans happen. Instead, it is being convinced of the dependability and infallibility of God, The Creator. I have his promise that everything – anything – that happens in my life is good. It’s for the good. My good.

The effect of this feeling is described in the well-used Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”). But, I want to use a lesser known verse to try to convey how I feel:

god-anything-possibleJob 42:2
I know that You can do all things and that no plan of yours can be ruined [is impossible; can be hindered).

This is what delivers me to (or delivers to me) a peace that surpasses, and an accepting of whatever happens each day – whether I planned it or not. (Because I do make plans.) I think this is what Jesus was getting at, too:

Mark 14:36 (EXB)
He prayed, “Abba, Father! You can do all things.
Take away this cup of suffering.
But do what you want, not what I want.

I would ask Him, of course, if I could get two chances at that park bench, please?

Consolation, Fear (Awe), and Trembling (with Joy)!

This will be perhaps my shortest post ever – there’s really not much to say about it.
(Well, that and I have only a few minutes to write it!)

Proverbs 1:7
The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Psalm 65:8
… stand in awe … rejoice with trembling…

God is all-powerful. He is the One who made everything – it doesn’t matter how. In fact, science does us a favor by explaining the how. What science doesn’t change, however, is that something or, as I believe, someone still created it all.

And we benefit from keeping that power in mind, and walking – working through our lives respectfully.

MercyMe has a great song, The Hurt and The Healer, which includes the line:
But healing doesn’t come from the explained.”

Acts 9:31
So the church (I say, both individually and as a whole)… had peace and was being built up and walking in the respect and reverential fear of the Lord and in the consolation and exhortation of the Holy Spirit

Isaiah 66:2
All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
He who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

He loves us, O how he loves us BUT our God is an awesome God…

It’s The ‘Perfect’ Time Of Year

“I don’t feel good.”

“Like bad or ‘hospital bad’?”

img_3028It’s been a frequent exchange between me and my wife these past few years. I can easily recall the many times I’ve felt ‘hospital bad’. Worse, there have been times when I didn’t have to say anything at all. She just knew I was not well. My wife is an angel.

This conversation has occurred often enough that I’ve learned to be very careful to say what I mean, and mean what I say. So, at 2:15am on December 18, 2016, the words I really should use are, “I don’t feel ‘all right’,” or, “I don’t feel ‘perfect’.”

Honestly, it might be because it’s that “perfect” time of year, the Holiday Season. We cram four big ones into the final few weeks of the year: Halloween, Thanksgiving, the Twelve Days of Christmas (and its month-long build up), and then New Years Eve/Day just a week later.

It was great when I was school-age; extra time off! Play time! Presents received! But now, as an adult and grandparent, it seems more like all work and not much play; like leaving the homework assignment to the last minute. I have a big list of other people. I feel pressured to show that I’m thinking of them in a very material way. But suddenly it’s only a week to go, and I’ve got nothing. It makes me feel ‘mean’. Scramble!

It’s because I’ve never been good at the planning-ahead and follow-thru necessary for merchandise-based events (or school projects). Maybe I’m just too wrapped up in my own stuff to be proactive about someone else’s. That’s why my favorite has always been Thanksgiving. The only thing expected to be given on that day is thanks. I’d be happy if we just left it at that, and got on with things (or back to them).

img_2907-editedHowever, I am a work in progress. And I’ve found that I do best when I have a routine to follow. I find this many holidays in such a short period of time to be disruptive. Certainly, it messes with my schedule, what with all the parties and time off of productive “work” and all the relatives a-visiting. I naturally find less quality time with God and am less able to follow my slow and steady, one-day-at-a-time pace. Of course, the winter weather here in New England requires extra time to get ready to go anywhere.

Absolutely, the budget is impacted, with all the spending on gifts and galas. It seems like there’s an increased stress on consumerism at this time of year, with commercials focused on driving our “need for greed,” and aimed at making us want the things of this world. For me, these feelings devolve into a reminding of my faults, of my lack, of what I haven’t accomplished in this past year and in this life. They trigger my worry, anxiety, and Fear Of Not Doing Enough (F.O.N.D.E.)

img_3295Ssssssoooooo…. 3:10am (our 10-month-old grandson is a-visitin’ and needed a snack.)

It’s times like these I need to be very intentional about making time to be still and know. I turn to the Bible desperately, because I know it has almost everything I need; everything my soul needs. That awareness is what helps me deal with every other kind of need.

Psalm 147:1
Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God, for he is gracious and lovely;
Praise is becoming and appropriate.

“I think I’m beginning to feel ‘good’.”

Psalm 149:4
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people.
He will beautify the humble with salvation
and adorn the wretched with victory.

How beautiful and promising are those phrases! They emphasize God’s ability to transform my heartaches with peace, joy, and love. He lifts me up in spite of my struggles, and gives me victory not otherwise found in this existence.

Psalm 147:3 (AMPC)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds
[curing their pains and their sorrows].

“Yes, I’m feeling ‘better’.”

My state of mind and attitude improve. The very act of reading, journaling, and praising is one of recognizing and enjoying Life itself, the greatest gift of all! I mean, really! Would I rather not be?

img_2915“Creator God, How Great Thou Art! What Can I Do but praise and appreciate you, and be thankful that you have given me life – any life at all – let alone so rich a life as this! What Can I Do but be thankful and joyful that you give my life meaning. What would I be – and where – without life? Nothing! Nowhere! But instead, I am someone, somewhere, anywhere! And this alone makes giving praise and thanks to you worthwhile – even in the absence of some of the “good” things and times in this world.”

The song “Tunnel” by Third Day includes the line “I want to give a little hope to you.” Well, unfortunately, I can’t give you hope – only God can do that. All I can do is tell you and show you where God brought me to find the hope that he makes possible.

“I feel ‘hopeful’.”

Hope is what helps us to keep going – during any season of life.