This past Friday evening, August 28, 2020, gospel artists "United to Fight Poverty" with a virtual concert on Youtube. It featured TobyMac, Hillsong Worship, Kirk Franklin, for KING & COUNTRY, Tamela Mann, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Matthew West, CeCe Winans, Natalie Grant, Zach Williams, Mandisa, Big Daddy Weave, Matt Maher, Phil Wickham, Christine D'Clario, Blanca, Rita Springer, Dante Bowe, Colony House, and Jon Reddick.
And, y'all it was AWESOME!!
I have never heard of Colony House before. The band is composed of brothers Caleb Chapman on vocals and Will Chapman on drums, with guitarist Scott Mills, and bassist Parke Cottrell. Caleb and Will are the sons of contemporary Christian musician, Steven Curtis Chapman. Take a listen to their songs Looking for Some Light and Waiting for My Time to Come.
I have never listened to Kirk Franklin before either. Y'all, I have been missing out! I have no idea where I have been, I guess under a rock or something! lol
Kirk Dewayne Franklin is an American choir director, gospel musician, singer, songwriter, and author. He is best known for leading urban contemporary gospel choirs such as The Family, God's Property, and One Nation Crew among many others. He has won numerous awards, including 16 Grammy Awards. His song Love Theory has me grooving! You will have this on repeat! And, Wanna Be Happy? has an amazing message.
It never ceases to amaze me how much music can do for your soul. How it can just lift your heart or comfort your hurts or explain exactly how you feel. I have said it before and will say it until I die, music is medicine.
A few Sundays ago I was listening to Mandisa on my Abide App while I was at the gym. She asked, "what is your song?" She was sharing with us that we each need to write our own song about our life. Mandisa pointed out that while all bluebirds sing and sound very similar in their song, that they each have a distinct sound that belongs to only them. We are the same way.
So, ever since then, I have been thinking about what my song is. I have written a few lines in my head and thought it would be good to actually get them on paper. (Or, type them out, as we do nowadays!) And, so here we are.
I realized that for a few years now I have been repeating three words in my head to myself. I say them over and over. So, I figured these words would be the name of my song.
Trust and Believe
I trust and believe in you, O Lord.
I trust and believe in you.
Your Word is my lamp and my sword.
I long to be in your presence and one day see your face.
I am ever so grateful for your love and never-ending grace.
When this world becomes too much and my struggles overwhelm.
I turn to you and trust and believe, because you are at the helm.
I trust and believe in you, O Lord.
I trust and believe in you.
I know the promises you have made.
And I know that they are true.
I know that you love and cherish me.
I place all my hope in you.
Many days my strength fails me,
And my head and heart are a mess.
But, in you, I find my comfort.
In you, I find my rest.
I trust and believe in you, O Lord.
I trust and believe in you.
I place my confidence and my heart in your hands.
I gladly give you my life,
It is yours to direct and plan.
I rest securely in the knowledge that I seek and find in your Word.
That I need not fear, nor worry, nor live my life on my own.
I rest securely in the knowledge that Jesus will come again.
It is for all these things and more, O Lord,
I sing your praises evermore.
I trust and believe in you, O Lord.
I trust and believe in you.
This is it. This is what I have so far. Maybe one day I can put some music to it, somehow. And, maybe even find my voice to sing out loud.
So, what about you? What is your song? I would love to hear it!
I have always been fascinated with the book of Revelation. I guess mainly because I know it is a prophecy of what is to come in this life. Or, as I have come to believe, what is happening right now. I have read it multiple times in hopes that I can make some sense out of it, but always come away scratching my head. What about you? Have you ever read it and wondered what in the heck John is talking about?
Revelation is chock-full of symbolic meaning. But, how do you interpret it? I remember asking others about this and no one had very good answers. And, ultimately, it was just something I let slip into my rearview mirror.
However, since March, when COVID-19 came into our lives and started us on this roller coaster ride of craziness, I have been turning my eyes back to God and His Word. Throw in all the insanity of our world with corrupt politics and race relations, and well, I couldn’t help but think of Bible prophecy again.
Then, at the end of June, I stumbled across a book that was soon to be released called Tipping Point The End Is Here by senior pastor of Gateway Church, Jimmy Evans. Maybe I shouldn’t say stumbled, I honestly think God sent it my way on purpose.
Upon reading that pastor Evans has studied Biblical end times prophecy, known as eschatology, for forty-five years and that the book is an analysis of Scripture, I bought it right away.
When I received it in the mail last week, I dove right in! What with everything that is going on in our world right now, it was like I was dying of thirst and this book was a keg of fresh, ice-cold, refreshing water.
Tipping Point opened my eyes to not only the book of Revelation, but to all of the prophecies of the Bible.
Did you know that 30 percent of the Bible is prophecy? Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Habakkuk, Nahum, Zaphaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were all prophets. Not to mention Jesus himself.
I finished the book in less than 24 hours. And, I keep opening it back up to re-read it. I am blown away at what Jimmy had written. Hence, why I am here to share the book with you.
The end times can be a very scary thing; especially if you don’t know God as your Lord and Savior. If you think the times we are living in right now are bad, I have news for you, it is nothing compared to what is coming. Once the Tribulation gets here, it will truly be hell on earth.
That is why I am pleading with you today, get to know the Lord. He loves you so very much. You are His child and there is nothing you can do or have done that will make Him turn away from you. I would be overjoyed and honored to introduce you to Him. Please just reach out to me, or someone else you know who is a true Christian and you feel you can trust. Go visit a church and talk to the pastor there. Go online to any one of the following sites and listen, read, and learn: David Jeremiah, Max Lucado, or Joyce Meyer. It’s not too late. But, the time is NOW.
However, if you are a Christian and believe in God and are in a right relationship with Him, this book will give you solace and comfort. It shows you how to have hope and peace in the midst of all of our current turmoil.
This book is the proof in the pudding that God is real. It is definitive and awe-inspiring—just as God is.
Plus, honestly, no matter what you believe, Tipping Point is incredibly fascinating just from a historical and current events' standpoint.
Jimmy walks you through Israel and her history and the vital importance of her role.
Jimmy turns our eyes skyward to explain what the sun, moon, and stars have to say.
And, Jimmy gives us a play-by-play with critical insight into how we are the final generation and how we have seen every end times event fulfilled. He tells us that while every generation has seen some signs of the end times, the final generation will have every sign.
This is it folks. We are the final generation. We are living at the end of the end times.
I pray that you will not be here for the Tribulation that you will instead be with Jesus in heaven, celebrating, as I will be. It is something I am looking forward to.
But, please note that no one knows the day or time when Jesus will return. It could be today or seven years from now. As Jimmy tells us and I will end sharing with you; Plan as though Jesus in not returning for a hundred years and live as though Jesus is returning today.
Much like my last post, I woke up this morning and something just popped into my head--seemingly out of nowhere. (Although, I am learning to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit.) And, the thought was this: hue man beings.
As you probably well know, there is a great deal of turmoil bubbling and running rampant in our country right now. The problem is racism. And, as I am now getting accustomed to doing, I decided to look in my Bible for the answer to this problem.
What does the Bible say about racism, anyway? Well, from my reading and research, nothing. Which, in turn, speaks volumes.
The first thing we need to understand as Christians, is that there is only one race--the human race. Caucasians, Africans, Asians, Arabs, and Jews are not different races. Rather, they are different ethnicities of the human race. We all have the same physical characteristics, with minor variations, of course. More importantly, we have all been created in the likeness and image of God. (Genesis 1:26-27) God so loved the world that He sent His son, Jesus, to lay down His life for us. (John 3:16). And, the "world" obviously includes all ethnic groups.
And, while I can't find any references to race or racism in the Bible, I can find plenty of verses that tell us to love one another. Jesus commands us to love one another as He loves us. (John 13:34) We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. (James 2:8) Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25 that whatever we do to the least of His brothers, we do to Him. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We are not only human beings, but we are hue man beings. The dictionary defines hue as a gradation or variety of a color. or colors, or complexion. Humans come in all different colors. Our complexions and skin tones are as varied as our personalities. Much like all the beautiful plants and flowers God created, God created us humans to be colorful and unique. Could you image a world with only red roses? Don't get me wrong, red roses are lovely, but if they were the only flower in the world--well, how boring! Instead, God not only created red roses but purple irises, yellow sunflowers, blue hydrangeas, green hellebores, orange daisies, pink tulips, white gardenias, and, well, you get the idea!
We need to end racism. All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross. God does not show partiality or favoritism, and neither should we. No, indeed, as the children's song says, "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight." We are the "they" in this song. And, we all belong to one race--the human race.
As I was waking up this morning, I started thinking, what day is today? Do you ever do that? Have trouble keeping up with what day it is? I know I do sometimes! Today was one of those days.
As I was gathering my thoughts right after that, I noticed the beautiful pink sunlight streaming through the blinds in our bedroom. And, it dawned on me (pun intended) that it was Sunday. Then, something odd popped into my head, "Son Day."
We can think of Sunday as Son Day. It is a day when we normally recognize the Son of God. Sundays are typically a day of worship, a day in which we Christians honor the Lord--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We love and exalt a triune God. So, why not start thinking of Sunday as Son Day? The Son of God Day!
It's just a little twist that can give you a new, fresh perspective on Sundays. And, for as much as the Lord has graciously given us, it is a very small thing that we can do to remind ourselves who this day is truly for!
Have you ever needed to do a “hard reset” on one of your electronic devices? Your mobile phone? A tablet? Maybe even your computer? You know, because it is frozen and won’t work anymore? I know I certainly have. It’s as if that device is saying, “Ok, I have had enough. I can’t take anymore. I need a break.” Thus, you have to shut it down, give it some time, and do a hard reset to get it to function again.
Well, as human beings, I believe we all need to take breaks, too. And, right now during this coronavirus pandemic, we are getting our chance. Maybe this is God’s way of giving us the ability to do a “hard reset” on our lives and ourselves.
Even though this pandemic is scary in a multitude of ways, we should be using this unexpected time at home to our advantage. If we just change our perspective a bit, we can look at this as an opportunity to better ourselves, our lives, and maybe even the world we live in. This is our moment to create some beauty out of the “ashes” of this Covid-19 mess. (See Isaiah 61:3)
Below are just a few ideas I have on using this time wisely.
Yet, more often than not, these are the first things that get pushed aside in our daily lives. We don’t necessarily mean to, but we get busy just living life. We have jobs and kids and chores. And, yes, these are all important too. But, we get so occupied with all of these other things, we forget our greatest concerns should be looking towards the Lord and then taking care of each other.
I pray that during this unforeseen season where our lives have slowed down to a snail’s pace, that we will all turn the tables to our benefit. Let’s do a hard reset on our lives and put the focus where it should be—God and others. After all, God’s commandment is to love Him first and second to love one another. (See Mark 12: 30-31)
Earlier this year, I was blessed to be able to join the Country Fried Creative family as a web designer. It is a job that allows me to do creative work and I truly love what I do. I also deeply appreciate having a boss and team-mates who care about our clients, the work we do, and each other. To me, it is an amazing example of what God can do in your life, if you just let Him. This job is an answer to prayer. (Many, many prayers, if I am honest.)
I have known for at least the last three months that this job has been a blessing, and today God sent me another huge reminder of this fact. And, it is something that I would like to share with all of you.
Today, my boss, and owner of Country Fried Creative, Joe Domaleski, made the following post on Facebook:
Hey y’all, it’s me again. So often we’re taught that you have to go out into life and get what you want by any means possible. What if I told you that sometimes you should just do the right thing without expecting a return? Two weeks ago I shared about an unprecedented act of kindness that really rocked my world and restored my faith in “sowing bountifully”. Another equally amazing thing recently happened and came to fruition yesterday. Yesterday, my SBA Paycheck Protection Program business loan was approved which is very nice, but that’s not the amazing part - how it came to pass is the real story.
Suffice it to say that these are difficult times for us all. If you’re an employee, then you’re worried about your job. If you’re an employer (particularly a small, local business like us), then you’re worried about your business and employees. I openly tell people I have a laser beam focus on two priorities right now: (1) Helping our customers, and (2) Protecting the payroll of my business family (employees). Customers trust us to help them. Employees trust me to lead the business. I trust my employees to take care of our customers.
When the government announced the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, it was designed to protect paychecks. It is not free money, it’s a loan (albeit with very favorable terms) that can only be used for one thing - making payroll. Our local business community worked through this together via workshops & webinars. The guidance given was to apply for the program through your business banker. I applied for the program on the very first day it was offered.
In a previous post I openly shared my frustration at how the first round of money was gobbled up by big “supposedly small” businesses. As was well reported in the news, that first round of money was not given to those with the greatest need or even in the order of application, but was awarded very arbitrarily based on very subjective factors. Banks were given wide latitude to loan the money (backed by all of us taxpayers) as they saw fit. Most of them gave the loans to their favorite customers. Despite having a longstanding banking relationship with a national bank for 15 years, apparently I didn’t make the cut as being a “favorite customer”. When I inquired about that, I was literally told that I didn’t have enough loan business with the bank!
A few weeks into the program, and I was notified that the SBA PPP program had run out of money - which was also widely reported in the news. The government passed a second round of funding and my bank said my application would remain on file to be considered for the second round. I heard nothing more from them.
Two weeks ago I received a text from a long-standing friend of mine who I’ve known for almost 15 years. He and I had developed a friendship through the Chamber. We got to know each other in the community, at special events, and even at the local gym. Over the years, I’ve watched his career grow in the banking business, and he’s now the President of a local bank. He has never pressured me to move my money to his bank. Quite the contrary, he’s been a steady low-maintenance friend. The text he sent me was simply “Call me when you get a chance.”
So I called my friend and after the obligatory “how’s it going” exchange, he stunned me with his next question, “Hey Joe, have you gotten approved for the PPP yet?” My heart froze and I didn’t know what to say. He went on, “If you haven’t gotten the loan yet, I would be happy to process it for you. You’ve been there for me all these years. I can do this for you.” I literally choked up... I mean, when has a banker ever gone out of their way to help? My friend is no ordinary banker. I meekly answered, “yes please help.” He went on to explain that he’s literally been working around the clock to get the PPP apps processed and that if I can turn around the paperwork quickly, he’d personally do all that he could to make it happen - and so he did. Over the past 10 days we’ve been handling paperwork and yesterday the funding arrived in my bank account. There were no strings attached to the loan, no conditions associated with his offer to help - he simply helped a friend in need.
It’s easy to get jaded in the business world. When you have something desirable (power, money, prestige) everyone wants to be your friend. When you need something (money, assistance, a favor) few are willing to help. It’s times like these you know who your true friends are. Like the previous act of kindness from my non-profit client, this one brought a tear to my eye too. I have goosebumps just sharing the story with you.
So who is this incredible banker that I’m telling you about? In due time, you’ll know who he is - some of you may already know. He has asked that I keep his identity secret for now because he’s literally overloaded with loan applications and doesn’t have the capacity to take on more. Keep the faith friends. Do the right thing. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)
On behalf of our entire CFC team, thank you.
God is alive and well, and He hears our prayers and knows our hearts. As Joe has pointed out, keep the faith and do the right thing. Joe also shares 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, which says this, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."
The Bible teaches us that we should love God and love others. (See Mark 12:30-31) It is God's will for our lives is to reflect His love and share the good news about Him with everyone we meet. As God's children, we are to be His hands and feet. It is up to us to spread goodness and light in this dark world. We should be as loving, kind, generous, and helpful to other people as we can be. When we do these things, we are showing others who God is. This is how we tell others about God without ever opening our mouths or saying a word.
When we sow bountifully, we will in-turn, reap bountifully. We should become givers; not because of any monetary or earthly possession we will gain, but because of how it will make us feel on the inside. This is how we become happy, fulfilled people. This is how we become cheerful. And this my friends, is how we become cheerful givers.
Being a giver is good for your heart and your soul. And, during this COVID-19 crisis, we need as much good as we can get. (Oh, and did you know that giving is also good for your health? To learn more, read this great article.)
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.