Categories
God music parenting

He’ll never leave you or forsake you

I help administer a private group on Facebook for foster and adoptive dads, and posted this today for encouragement, because I needed it myself:

So lately I’ve been struggling with the strong wills of my boys, and of my own. The constant tug-of-war. My wife and I were talking about it over lunch today, because she shares in the frustration (she’s strong-willed as well), and I reminded her, as much as myself, that they act this way because they feel securely attached to us.

“Well, it would be nice if they weren’t complete JERKS about it!” she sighed. She didn’t use the word “jerks,” but I’m trying to keep this family-friendly.

I mention this because I know I’m not alone in being a dad frustrated with the behaviors of his kids from hard places. Especially when they’ve been in our home for so long (birth for two of them, 9 months old for the third, and they’re 16, 11, and 8 now), and it just doesn’t feel like things are getting better.

Then God decides to plant a reminder on you in an unexpected way. In an email newsletter unrelated to parenting, there was this verse of encouragement from Hebrews, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” God always has our back, and we just need to go to Him with our frustrations, seek His peace.

And because I’m an ’80s metalhead, this verse and the feeling behind it will always be enshrined for me in the opening song from Rage of Angels’ self-titled, 1989, debut album:

Categories
God music salt and light

The grass withers, the flowers fade…

My friends Kara and Ryan, who founded and run Imana Kids, posted a photo to the Imana Instagram account with the text of Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

This verse imprinted on me in a most unique way when I was a teenager. Anyone who knows me knows I was a metalhead in my teen years (and I still am). After I discovered Stryper, and the realm of Christian metal, I came across a Christian rock band called Ruscha. The band was founded by brothers Nikolai and Peter Pankratz, who escaped Communist Russia in the 1970s. They started the band in the 1980s as an outlet for their love of music, and as a vehicle for giving witness to what it was like to be a Christian in Soviet Russia. Andy Denton, whose vocal range is highlighted on the song “Come Home”, was the group’s frontman.

There was a church in one of the Baton Rouge suburbs, Baker or Zachary maybe, I don’t recall which, that hosted the band. (It was the same church I also saw Wayne Watson perform at.) My dad went with me to the event, part concert, part testimony. I’d gotten their album “Come Alive” at a local Christian book store, and loved some of the songs. I can still see in my mind’s eye Andy, Nikolai, and Peter on stage in that church.

There are two things from that album and concert that have stuck with me to this day:

  • Nikolai and Peter talking about believers smuggling individual pages of the Russian-language Bibles in slits in potatoes, and how if the pages were left in there too long, they were ruined by the potatoes’ fluids. They salvaged whatever pieces they could, because people were that starved for the Word of God.
  • The song “The Word Stands Forever”, which uses Isaiah 40:8 as the chorus. It’s the only Ruscha song I can still sing by heart.

The memories I just shared, stirred up by the Imana Kids post, sent me on an Internet hunt, and the Internet delivered. There’s a Wikipedia entry for the band, linked to earlier in this post. Which led me to wonder if any of their music was available online; the copy of “Come Alive” I have is on cassette, and most likely buried in a shoebox in a closet. We have an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, and lo and behold! The Pankratzes released a remastered version in 2012, and I’m listening to it as I type this post, with a smile on my face as I sing along to “The grass withers, the flowers fade, Heaven and Earth will pass away, the grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever.”

Categories
God love Tumblr

Beautiful Feet: Let’s Be Real. Really.

Beautiful Feet: Let’s Be Real. Really.

Categories
God liberty quote Tumblr

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.

—Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781
Categories
God quote Tumblr

I have lived, sir, a long time; and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?

—Benjamin Franklin, Motion for Prayers in the Constitutional Convention, 1787
Categories
God quote Tumblr

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

—George Washington, letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, 1790

A prayer for all of us.

Categories
God music Tumblr

The More I Believe

The life that I’ve been living
From the day I first drew breath
Has been my way of forgetting
I’m on the journey to my death
You make my soul rise up
You make my eyes to see
When I place my faith in you
And I lose my belief in me

The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee
The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee

I don’t believe in beads or crystals
Instant karma or mother earth
I don’t believe that what I think
Makes any difference to what I’m worth
I don’t believe in reincarnation
I’m not coming back as a flower
I don’t bow my head to kings or priests
‘Cos I believe in your higher power

The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee
The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee

Oh you’ve given me a plan
That I don’t understand
‘Cos I’ve wandered over half the world
But I’ve remained an ignorant man
One thing That I know
Is when the final bell tolls
Human love won’t be enough
Good deeds can’t save my soul

Well I’m not afraid of dying
But I am afraid of you
Because you hear me when I’m lying
And you see the things I do
So the hands go round the clock
As the light goes from the room
And I can’t help thinking to myself
I’m going to find out much to soon

The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee
The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee

Oh you’ve given me a plan
That I just don’t understand
‘Cos I’ve wandered over half the world
But I’ve remained a ignorant man
One thing that I know
Is when the final bell tolls
Human love won’t be enough
Good deeds can’t save my soul

I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe
I believe

You make my soul rise up
You make my eyes to see
When I place my faith in you
And I lose my belief in me

The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee
The less I believe in me
The more I believe in thee

–Charlie and Craig Reid, 1994

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Categories
fun God music parenting that's life

Jesus loves dinner time

Tonight at the dinner table, Samuel decided it was time to do a little singing.

Jesus loves dinner time from Chris Turner on Vimeo.

Categories
God

Talking openly about our doubts

Jason Boyett:

[D]oubt is a necessary part of faith. We tend to think that faith and doubt are opposites, but they’re not. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty. If we are certain of something, we don’t need faith. Faith and doubt, then, exist side by side — and that plays itself out all over the Bible (“Lord I believe! Help me overcome my unbelief.”).

But — reason #2 — doubt is about as taboo a subject as you can bring up in church. When was the last time anyone in a small group or church service admitted to not knowing if he or she believed in God? Or wondering if God was really present at all, or good? I’ve honestly had readers tell me that they’d love to read my book, but worry about what their friends or family might think when they see them reading a book about doubt. It sounds flippant, but maybe they should hide my book behind a Playboy. It’s more acceptable to be a Christian with a porn problem than a Christian with a doubt problem. That’s horrible. I want doubters to know that they’re not alone in the journey, and that it’s OK. That they don’t have to pretend to have it all together. That they don’t have to fake it. I hope this book gives them the freedom to be honest, and the encouragement to continue pursuing God, however that might look.

Categories
God love

Hope

Max Lucado:

We are not much different than burdened travelers, are we? We roll in the mud of self-pity in the very shadow of the cross. We piously ask for his will and then have the audacity to pout if everything doesn’t go our way. If we would just remember the heavenly body that awaits us, we’d stop complaining that he hasn’t healed this earthly one.

Our problem is not so much that God doesn’t give us what we hope for as it is that we don’t know the right thing for which to hope. (You may want to read that sentence again.)