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music monday: with everything by hillsong

Tiffany NicoleComment

I have been wrestling lately. Wrestling with God. Seeking and praying and fasting and reading. Wrestling with the Church in context of America; not sure what wrestling looks like when I can hardly crawl and lacking in skill set and just learning how to stretch muscles in rhythms that are natural to the body.

Recently sitting on my counter was a copy of Relevant magazine, a young child whose arm was bandaged and stopped before the elbow looking back at me on the cover. Anything but light reading before bed but had me searching the pages for the corresponding article.

Children and women and men dying for their faith. Martyrdom in Nigeria. Sitting in my overflowing home and thinking about the 13 year old boy who was castrated and in bandages but asking for prayers for his faith to increase, and the husband, whose wife went to be with the Lord after being told they must convert to Muslim or be killed, as he lay in the hospital recovering from the wounds after being left for dead but comforted for Jesus said there would be trouble, and the lady who watched her sister get shot to death and forced to marry the man behind the gun but managed to escape, it is hard to comprehend it all. He could be my friend. He could be my relative. She could be my child. This could be meThese are God's children. Keep them tucked in your prayers as you slip both hands in your shirt as you dress and as you guide  your child's legs in his pants. 

As I sit well fed and comfortable, not a need unmet, having attended a church service this week, others are fighting the good fight of faith. Others are losing their loved ones, their moms and dads and babies to hate, their own arms and limbs cut off, while I feast. While I celebrate birthdays and hear of goals to be made and holidays to be planned, their faith is being refined in the most holy of ways.

There is a time for everything under heaven. A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to weep and a time to laugh. And this is a time to refine. The words of Paul, taken from Psalms, echoing in my head: for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

This is real faith. This is what it all boils down to. Do we really believe? 

Is this what America needs to witness to be reconciled to its first love? To see the suffering and perseverance of real faith? To follow in their example and know we are more than conquerors through Jesus? To truly know the Savior we claim on Sundays, yet fail to fully seek him the rest of the week?

Is this what we need to witness to truly repent and turn from our sinful ways?

With Everything by Hillsong is a beautiful song and prayer for the Church. Have a listen.

Open our eyes,
To see the things
That make Your heart cry,
To be the church
That You would desire.
Light to be seen.

Praying that your faith would continue to be formed and shaped and molded. Praying we would stop the enslavement of our cell phones and iPads and turn our hearts to him. That we would stop living for empty, self seeking pleasure and American dreams and turn to him. That we would stop seeking monetary gains and politics and turn to him.

Here's to wresting and faith. 

music monday: man of sorrows by hillsong worship

Tiffany Nicole8 Comments

I have always had this picture of Jesus as a warmhearted, passionate, joyous person. He made time for the children and broke bread with the disciples and taught and was passionate about God's temple. It all seems so sweet, yet Isaiah 53:3 declares him a man of sorrows.

He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The opposite of pure joy perhaps is sorrow.  Though it is possible to have joy in your sorrows, in the same way you can be being happy and sad for various reasons.

Sorrow is defined as mental, physical or emotional anguish. The gut wrenching angst for something more or something less. For the wrongs to be righted and the dead to be made alive and the dark to be overcome by light and the night to give way to the dawn and ultimately, for the sinners to turn from their ways.

Living in a world full of sin that is distant from God, knowing this is not how we were meant to be, must have been hard. Knowing we were made for greater. Knowing the toiling and ensnaring and separation and chaos that sin so entails each person, should he choose. That is a reason for sorrow and pain and suffering.

But Jesus' sorrow was not without reason and not due to his own sin, but for the most worthy of causes. It was about encouragement for us, all the more, in to leading humanity to repentance while he walked the earth and died on the cross and rose from the grave and ascended to heaven. Culminating with bringing about our redemption.

Man of Sorrows by Hillsong Worship is a great listen for this sorrow + redemption story. Have a listen.

Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow is the root that gives depth to the soul and allows praise to bud and rise and grow in to a nourished, strong, unwavering, fruit producing, shade giving tree. This sorrow produces perseverance and repentance and has the ability to set the heart ablaze with the desires of God.

Paul goes on listing to the Corinthians what godly sorrow produces (2 Corinthians 7:11):

               Earnestness  - sincerity of heart to repent  
               Eagerness to clear yourselves - a certain amount of excitement to stop sinning
               Indignation / alarm / longing / concern / readiness to see justice done - taking ownership                 and acknowledging the sin + its effects in order to learn + grow.  

Would I like to be known as a woman of sorrow?  Quite frankly no. Perhaps you would like that added next to your name on a business card?

________, a man / woman of sorrow.

It has a such a broken and sad connotation to it. But what if in your state of sorrow, you brought one person in to eternity. Or maybe two. Or a dozen or hundreds. It is impossible to see what God has planned but there is a place for sorrow as there is a place for joy and becoming like Jesus encapsulates them both.

Praying that as you experience sorrow in your life - sorrow for the poor, the afflicted, the broken hearted, the sick, the unjust - that you would find encouragers on the path to point you towards the goal and that it would ultimately lead you to a deeper concern and love for others and with God.

Praying your adventure would not be one of wandering and meandering but seeking justice and loving and sharing truth. Praying that while it may feel like more of a lonesome journey at times, that you would take each step and put one foot in front of the other and count on God for the strength to endure and the love to act.  

Here's to sorrows and redemption. 

music monday: forever by chris tomlin

Tiffany Nicole3 Comments

After talking about how we need rain in California with Penny the other day, she stopped and said we needed to pray for some. So she said a little prayer. Immediately following it, she asked if she could put on her jacket because it was going to rain. I explained answers to prayer do not always happen right away.

So we waited. The sky grew cloudy but no drops came. Another day came and went and we waited some more. She knew the rain was coming and was a little apprehensive about going outside without a jacket - in California - in July - in a drought but that did not deter her. She knew God would answer.

The next morning, clouds came and little drops fell along on the ground. We rushed outside, thanking God for answered prayers. It wasn't long enough for puddles but just enough to to water our little wildflowers and remember God hears even the littlest of prayers and allowing us to worship him in his splendor and faithfulness to reveal himself to this mama and four year old.

Forever by Chris Tomlin fits here for some worship of God's faithfulness. Have a listen.

Forever, God is faithful
Forever, God is strong
Forever, God is with us
Forever, forever

Answered prayers are little nuggets that remind us that the God of the universe hears us and knows us and cares about us. They are building blocks of the faith and in our relationship with him. Not every prayer ends in a yes or the way we hoped but it still is answered and are reminders for when the mountain tops level out to valleys that he is God and he is good, even if we do not understand the circumstance. 

Having a note book or journal dedicated to prayer is a great way to keep track of God's faithfulness and seeing his provision in your life. Often, we ask God for things and then forget what we asked as the days pass, even when he does answer them. Keeping a written record of your prayers helps you to remember what you are asking God for and allows you to give him the glory when they are answered and worship him. It becomes part of your faith and testimony.  

I came across Integrity Graphics  a few years back, a shop that specializes in prayer journals and the like, and my mama surprised me with one for my birthday that year. These journals make it easy to see the prayer request and the answer all in the same spot but any journal or paper work, too. I write prayers all over my journal, as well, although they tend to get buried and are harder to go back to.

Praying that if you have never written down a prayer request that you would put your pen to the paper and watch God in action. Praying that your prayer life would grow and that it would become an integral part of your day. Praying that as you become more intentional in your requests that you would see the power in prayer and in the name of Jesus.

Praying that despite the fact our feeble minds cannot fathom the way God works or answers our petitions, that you would trust him with them and that you would come to know him more intimately because of them.

Here's to more prayers and more answers. 


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