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Thursday, April 25, 2019

I Can't Help But Sing

I've been working on a new worship-style song - I thought I'd share it!






I Can’t Help But Sing
by Michael Jones

You are the One Who gives me breath
I can’t help but sing
You are the music on my lips
I can’t help but sing
  
You’re the One Who gives me life
You have given me a heart to beat
You’ve provided everything
I can’t help but sing

You have wrapped me in Your love
I can’t help but sing
You have clothed me in Your peace
I can’t help but sing


Hallelujah!


Monday, February 18, 2019

Being Sent

For several years now I've had my phone set up with a recurring message that I get every morning, like a text message from God. It's taken from the text of Judges 6:14: "Have I not sent thee?" I set it up during a time when I was working at a job that was really grinding my gears - I felt unappreciated, and sometimes I even felt like I was thrown under the bus by the people above me, used as a scapegoat to unhappy clients. I started to have minor health problems, and began to feel like my life was really not going anywhere. I started trying to find a new job, but nothing was out there for someone with my specific skill set. For over a year I was job hunting, with absolutely no success. It was looking bleak for me!

Then one Sunday my pastor taught about Gideon, and that phrase from his story jumped out at me. Was I in that job for a reason? Had God sent me there, perhaps, to have an impact on the people around me? Could it be that I had a ministry right there, and when that ministry was completed, I would somehow be released from that job when something else opened up? My brain didn't like the idea, but my heart told me yes.

I do know that I had a positive impact on the people around me at that job. I do know that, finally, God released me from that job when He "sent" me to another job. At that job I had a chance to heal from the wounds I had received at the job before, and then at a certain point, God called me to another job that I love so much that I can't imagine a better situation for me to be in. I know I'm "sent" there too, and I remember that every morning when I get my morning "text message from God".

"Have I not sent thee?"

Yep, Lord - I know you have!


Monday, February 11, 2019

Asking for Trouble

In my last post I mentioned that my new musical/devotional podcast, The Word Go Project, has been a wild ride for me, and I promised to talk about why. The short version is this: when you presume to teach people about something from the Word, you'd better be ready for the Holy Spirit to teach you, too!

The idea of The Word Go Project is that human beings need to hear things a certain number of times before they truly sink in and become parts of our psyche. How many of us can remember a song, or a musical jingle, or even a catch phrase from a TV character, years and decades later, just because we heard it over and over for a period of time? I can remember advertisements from TV that I haven't heard since my childhood. A quick Google returns wildly varying results of how many times it takes, from seven all the way up into the forties, but everyone seems to agree that the more times you hear something, the better you remember it.

Additionally, I discovered by listening back to the online versions of church services that I was actually at that the second and third times I hear the same exact message, I glean different information from it! But how many people follow the valuable practice of re-listening to the same message more than once? I'd guess the percentage is really low.

So I thought it would be a cool idea to wrap a useful message in original music, to make it more palatable to listen to more than once. And that's the genesis of The Word Go Project. Each episode is a short devotional - about ten minutes long - with three songs containing roughly the same information as the three points in the devotional. An entire episode, including the songs, rounds out to about twenty minutes, which I'm guessing is probably about the same amount of time your and my pastor preach on a Sunday morning. Hopefully people listen, and listen more than once! You can always find the latest episode at https://www.WordGoProject.com (mobile-friendly... just click the "Play" button!) and you can listen to older episodes at https://podcast.WordGoProject.com.

I decided that a great starting point for The Word Go Project would be the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians chapter five. That gave me an instant list of nine episodes to work up without having to come up with separate ideas for each episode. What I didn't realize was that as I was working on each episode, God would start to reveal ways I needed to work on that topic myself! When I did the episode on Love, I started to see ways that I wasn't loving others the way God wants me to. When I worked on Joy, I started to feel a little down and had to reach out to God to help me out of my funk. I started to feel agitated during the time I worked on Peace, and by the time I got to Patience I started to feel like making these things was taking me FOREVER! I've heard Bible teachers say that when you teach a topic, God deals with you on that topic first - even James in the Bible warned against aspiring to teach unless you are prepared to deal with the consequences.

Well, I wasn't particularly prepared for it at first, but now that I've realized what's happening, it's a little easier to let the Holy Spirit teach me right along with my audience. Right now I'm in the middle of the next episode, "Kindness", and I'm looking for ways to be kind to the people around me. I'm generally a "nice guy" anyway, but God's kind of kindness can sometimes cost you something, and it doesn't ask for a pat on the back for it, either. So that's a challenge I'm trying to face!

Please do listen to The Word Go Project! Listen to it several times, and really let the truths from the Word soak in. Then tell your friends about it, and get them to listen as well. The episodes are literally my gift to you. I'm not getting any money for it at all - in fact, I spend my own money every month to get the episodes out there. I'm not trying to be famous or get attention; my real goal is to strengthen the Body of Christ. I hope it makes a difference in your life today!


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Epiphany 2019

A few years ago I instituted a new tradition for my family every year on Epiphany. If your church tradition does not celebrate Epiphany (mine doesn't), the nutshell version is that January 6th is 13 days after Christmas, and some churches take it as a day to celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men in Bethlehem. Want to know more? Check back to my original post about it, and you can read about how we've celebrated it every year since (except last year, when I forgot to blog about it) in this series of posts.

2018 was an interesting year for me - the launch of The Word Go Project brought to fruition years of preparation of my heart and my skills as a writer and musician. God's been teaching me a lot (I'll be blogging here about the experience in the next few weeks), and there's still a lot to process. Who would have thought an 80s kid would still be "growing up" in 2018? It just shows that there's always work to be done in each of us!

My family has been growing up, too. My son graduated high school and entered college, and my daughter is approaching junior high faster than I expected! As I see them grow and mature, I want to see their faith grow. Every year I try to find gifts that will meet my kids and my wife where they live, and become part of their lives. I hope I've managed the same this year!

Until he grew out of it, I used to read to my son every night before bed. I still do the same for my daughter, who is 11 and kind of on the edge of that (although she's a softie and probably will still want me to read her bedtime stories when she's 21!) so when I saw that Kara Dekker had collaborated with her father Ted on a children's series set in the same reality as her dad's "Circle" books and their offshoots, all of which I love, I knew I had to order it for my daughter. They are called The Dream Traveler's Quest, and you can find out all about them on Ted Dekker's web site. They are cheaper on TedDekker.com, but they are now available at Amazon.com as well.

My son is a fantastic trumpet player who loves music theory, and because he is a musician and also a fan of history, I wanted to share with him a book I got when I was in college, The Spiritual Lives of Great Composers. The edition I am giving him is expanded from the version I had in college, with more composers covered. I also replaced my copy, which had been damaged in some water a while back, and as I read back through it myself, I was also inspired. I think he will love it!

My wife isn't really a big book reader, but this year I felt like I needed to give her something with substance to dig into. What has more substance than Beth Moore, and what is easier to read than a short devotional for every day of the year? The book I selected is Believing God Day by Day. I hope she keeps it by her bedside (or somewhere handy) and spends a few short minutes with it every day this year. I think it will really help her!

I'm expecting amazing, fantastic things out of this year. I expect more music, more devotional podcasts, and maybe even the occasional blog post here, for old time's sake! And I hope these small gifts plant seeds in the hearts of my family that will grow into amazing trees of righteousness in their lives that will help them remain strong in God for years to come!