Alleluia

Happy Sunday! I know it’s not Easter Sunday but this song kept popping into my head this morning. Actually, to be honest it was “praise the Lord for ibuprofen, alleluia!” (I hurt my shoulder doing Pilates) but nevertheless my earworm prompted me to look for the real song on youtube – et voila: this rousing rendition.

I just have one niggle about this video, regarding the picture of Jesus used as a background: why does ‘Jesus’ so often look like a Northern European celebrity doing a shampoo ad? He looks like he’s just about to toss his hair, turn to the camera and, with a smug smile, tell us what brand he’s using. Why do people insist on depicting Jesus this way?

I ONCE WAS LOST BUT NOW AM FOUND; WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE

I LOVE the story from the gospel of John of the healing of the man who was blind from birth. The unnamed man has such a simplicity and purity of spirit, even when faced with the ‘important’ men and their clever questioning. I’m quite certain Jesus loved this about him too! But what struck me in listening to this story are the words at the very beginning:

As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him…”

John 9:1-3 (WEB)

Jesus’ words, often overlooked because of the rest of the amazing story, are vitally important. We can add nothing to our salvation, nor can we take it away. Even if we follow all the ‘rules’ and worship God, it doesn’t mean our lives will be ok (often rendered as ‘blessed’ but I would question this definition of ‘blessed’ – post on this subject to follow). If we don’t follow the rules, it doesn’t mean our lives will be miserable. This is false teaching, although one that is easy to fall into. I fell into this trap myself a few years ago, thinking that if I did everything ‘right’ then life would be ok. Hurrah! No more bad stuff! God quickly and sharply brought me out of that one.

We latch onto ‘if only I can do it right’ because we’re scared and we want to be in control. Some people spend their whole lives trying to discover what ‘the rules’ are because they think if they follow the rules, everything will be ok, which really means ‘if I follow the rules, I’ll stay in control’. Life is scary. It is not under our control and we can’t do anything to make it under our control. Only yesterday my dear son told me of the death of a boy at school who was only a year older than him. The young man had been fit and healthy until September last year. Now he’s gone. I pray for his family.

Conversely, the most difficult lesson to learn for me (as for many people who have been abused) was that I didn’t do anything to cause any of it. I am not a freak. I am not ‘different’ in some indefinable way. I was not destined for abuse. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with me. God has been gently, carefully and lovingly bringing me out of that one.

God did not and does not cause the bad stuff, although He did allow it to happen. That God allows abuse and evil is a difficult doctrine to swallow, but when we love God, when we become part of His family, God can and does use our suffering for His glory – and it is a truly awesome thing to be a vessel for the glory of God. If I have known what it is to be unloved, to believe myself horrible and worthless and unlovable, how much more is the effect when I realise that not only am I lovable, but that I am loved by the Creator of the universe? And when I do see how much He loves me, what can I do but offer my life, my whole self in return?

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been brought to your knees in despair by your own sin, or whether it has been the sins of others, or a combination of the two: when you’re at your lowest is when God can bless you the most.

Less me = more God:

“You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can’t be hidden.”

Matthew 5:14

Hallelujah: Hebrew for YIPPEE!**

**It’s not really, literally ‘yippee’, of course. Literally, ‘hallelujah’ means ‘praise God!

There’s a Spirit in the Air

There’s a spirit in the air

Telling Christians everywhere

Praise the love that Christ revealed

Living, working in our world…

When believers break the bread

When a hungry child is fed:

Praise the love that Christ revealed

Living, working in our world.

~ from ‘There’s a Spirit in the Air’ by Brian Wren, a lovely hymn I grew up singing. I am deliberately recalling good memories as EMDR leaves one bombarded with memories for days (weeks, even) after a session, and they’re often the ugliest kind :-/

Anyway, there are only a handful of videos of this joyful song on youtube. Despite its being embedded in my subconscious it’s obviously not as well-known as I’d thought, so I share it now for you to enjoy 😀

Reblog: The Joy of Forgiveness, Oh Happy Day

Sometimes when people are worshipping with their whole hearts I get the sense the angels in heaven, surrounding the throne of God, are rejoicing too (people tend to think I’m a bit crazy when I actually say these things out loud, but… so what? 😉 )

In the West, in our often comfortable, sanitised lives we become complacent and forget the real sky-falling-down, truly reborn nature of forgiveness. Hallelujah! I’m loved by the King of Kings. Oh happy, happy day 😀

NB. I’m writing this a day after a particularly gruelling EMDR session which left me exhausted (who am I kidding? Every session is gruelling!). It is easy to feel weary, burned out and discouraged. After reading Tim’s post (below), and listening to the wonderful music, I still feel exhausted, but I am encouraged by the reminder of the glorious freedom found in Christ. May it all be for His glory.

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

When the Bible says your sins are forgiven, it means forgiven:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14.)

Look at all the past tense in that passage. God has made you alive. He forgave all your sins. He took what had stood against you and condemned you and canceled it by nailing it to the cross.

All your sin is forgiven and hanging on the cross.

The sins you’ve committed in the past?

All forgiven.

The sin you might be committing right now?

All forgiven.

The sins you’ll commit in the future?

ALL FORGIVEN.

Hard to fathom, isn’t it? Edwin Hawkins wrote a song…

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Mighty to Save

When I heard one of the founders of Celebrate Recovery speak, he made the comment that when choosing music for the weekly meetings’ worship time one had to bear in mind several factors: the music had to be appropriate and reachable for the CR attendees. He also said something which has stuck in my mind ever since:

Some people, when they come to Celebrate Recovery, will be so damaged that they will only be able to reach God through songs of praise.

It sounds counter-intuitive, yet I know that at my darkest times, the sacrifice of praise is one of the most moving and deep experiences a soul can experience. I nearly added humbling, but by this point you’re on your knees begging for mercy.

It is interesting that sometimes it is the most broken who truly experience humility. Yet we’re all supposed to be humble.

We’re going through some very difficult things right now, or I should say, I am. By proxy, my family are.  Praising God is a way through. I understand now when the psalmist refers to going through anguish, yet praising God and singing of His glory. Julian of Norwich says that prayer is the ‘deliberate and steadfast action of the soul’. Praise and worship are the same.

Be blessed.