Tag Archives: Bart Millard

Inspired by “The Cure”

Two days ago, I received an email asking if I was still writing blogs because she hadn’t seen any lately.  How sweet of her to ask.  She was right.  I haven’t written since April 11th (Won’t You Be My Love).

I realized yesterday that my blog’s one year anniversary is today, July 16th.  “If they asked me, I could write a book…” was that first post where I said, “I keep writing and writing, waiting for a book to pop out, but it never does.”  But now, looking back, I know that it finally did “pop out”.  If you’d like to read it, this is My Story.

It even had a sequel, a series of posts that expanded on that story:  Moment By Moment.

So, what have I been doing since that last post on April 11th?  Well, another interesting story has begun.  It all started on March 28th, when I realized that I wasn’t going to have something written in time for Maggie’s birthday party.

You remember Maggie.  She’s the young songwriter featured in the original Moment By Moment post.  If we’re friends on Facebook, you’ve most likely received that post as my birthday present to you (written on my birthday last October).

You see, Maggie’s amazing parents were putting together a one-of-a-kind birthday party for a one-of-a-kind 16 year old girl.  They wanted to tell the story of Maggie’s life, honoring the God who made that life possible, and share the day with friends and family who had impacted Maggie’s first 16 years.  I was honored to be on the guest list.  And those on the guest list were asked to write something to bring to the party to share with Maggie.

But my brain wouldn’t cooperate.  I wanted to encourage Maggie with words of wisdom, something akin to Bart Millard’s “Dear Younger Me“.  I wrote and I wrote and I wrote, but it just wouldn’t come together.  I always say that I need a lot of “space” in my brain to write, and I was seriously lacking in space.  I sobbed as I told my dear husband that I couldn’t do it.  And I almost decided not to go to the party.  Thankfully, John encouraged me to go anyway, even without something written.  I’m so glad I did.

The party was incredible.  I would have gone if only to be able to watch Maggie’s mom tell the story of her life.  It was beautiful.  And then friends and family shared and their stories added to the beauty of the day.  We all joined hands and prayed over Maggie.  I prayed that Maggie and her friends would never cancel their plans because they felt inadequate.

I cried as I prayed those words, because I knew that God wanted me there and I knew He wanted me to pass along that message.  I didn’t want them to ever miss an opportunity like that because, in engaging with others, we are in fact engaging with God.

Here’s how God engaged with me that day.  I sat with two friends who I hadn’t seen in years.  We spent some time catching up on each other’s lives.  I shared with them about my blog and about the miracle that God performed on September 13 & 14, 2014.  That was the beginning of my story: Redeemed – Part 1.  In that post, I wrote about seeing MercyMe in concert.  Bart Millard, MercyMe’s lead singer, had “been on an amazing road to transformation over the last couple years and it was exciting to hear his story.”

What if God isn't who you think He is and neither are you
The Cure: What if God isn’t who you think He is and neither are you

One of my friends said, “Do you know what started all of that?  He read a book by John Lynch called The Cure“.  She and her husband “just happened” to have been on the “MercyMe at Sea” cruise in January 2015 where they got to hear first-hand from Bart Millard about the book and why it was so impactful to him.  In fact, you can hear about it, right from the authors themselves, in this 11 minute podcast:  Sailing in the Dark.  MercyMe’s Welcome to the New album was directly inspired by this book.

Well, I went home from Maggie’s party and ordered the book.  And when it arrived, I devoured it.  Many times throughout the book, I literally laughed out loud as I read.  I could not believe what I was reading.  So many of the concepts I’ve written about in this blog are IN THIS BOOK.  Bart Millard never mentioned “The Cure” at the concert last September.  How huge is God that He was able to communicate all of this to me through MercyMe’s album, never having read the book that the album was based on?

If it was that important to God that I find this book, then I needed to know more.  I’ve since bought several other books by the same authors and listened to many podcasts on their website, TrueFaced.com:

Bo’s Cafe:  “The Cure” for marriage (devoured that one too)
The Ascent of a Leader:  “The Cure” for leaders (currently devouring this one)
On My Worst Day:  John Lynch’s story (this one is next on my list to devour)
Podcasts:  “Bo’s Cafe” informal chats with the authors, each only about 10-15 minutes long

And I’m blessed to be working through “The Cure” Small Group Study with two dear friends this summer.  We’re about half way through and it’s been wonderful.

But, first and foremost, if you’re intrigued, get The Cure.  And if you’re inspired too, please share.

And what ever happened with Maggie’s birthday present?  That 50th post, Won’t You Be My Love, was for her.  And this 51st post?  This one is for everyone.  After all, when you find the cure, don’t you want to share it with the world?

Advertisements

Turn Around

It’s been 7 weeks since my miracle occurred.  Now that all of those accusing voices of guilt and shame are finally gone, they’ve made room for a new voice that says, “You’re a heretic.  It can’t possibly be that simple.”

I feel a little like Bart Millard from MercyMe in his song “Wishful Thinking“:

But now my eyes are open wide
If this is wrong
I don’t wanna be right

But I do want to be right.  I know you can be sincere, but still be sincerely wrong.  I get that.  But I want to be accurate.  I want to be Biblically accurate.

My post called “Moment by Moment” was about how I had turned away from God.  I was so convinced that He was angry with me, and trying harder wasn’t getting me anywhere, that I had turned away and stopped asking for forgiveness.  At the beginning of the post, I said that nothing in my life had changed, but yet EVERYTHING had changed, leading me to ask “what changed?”  I concluded the post with a Henry Ford quote and the answer to my question:  my mind was changed.

It didn’t strike me until after I had posted the blog, but that’s exactly what God told me about sin and repentance.  My “sin” was that I had “turned away” from God.  And “repentance” means “to turn around” and “to change one’s mind.”  That’s exactly what happened.  My mind was changed and I turned around to embrace the God who loves me and is not mad at me.  And all of those condemning voices were silenced.

I heard it explained this way before.  If I am walking against a strong wind, I may feel that “the wind is against me.”  And if I turn around, I may feel that “the wind is now with me.”  But the wind didn’t change.  I was the one who changed direction in relation to the wind.  God doesn’t change either (Psalm 55:19).  But we have the ability to change our direction in relation to Him.

The problem comes when we’ve turned away and we think He’s angry with us and that He’ll punish us if we turn back to Him.  Or that we have to somehow “make it up to Him” and “do better” before He’ll take us back.  Our pastor, Chris Zarbaugh, explained it this way.  Chris said that no matter how far we have traveled from God, how far we have gone in the opposite direction, even if we’ve walked 10,000 steps away (or 10,000 miles away), it only takes one step to turn around.  Even though we walked away, God didn’t go anywhere.  He’s always been right there, longing for us to turn around.

God is always pursuing us, but He’s too much of a gentleman to tackle us.  He wants real love, not robotic love.  So He’s patient with us.  The Apostle Peter said that is why God hasn’t sent Jesus back yet: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

He wants us to repent – to change our minds about Him and to turn around.  He’s waiting for us.  He loves us.  He’s not angry with us.  Maybe we had an earthly father who was  angry with us, so we figure our Heavenly Father must feel the same way.  But He doesn’t.  If you haven’t read “The Face of Grace“, check it out, especially the picture that Jordan Rose drew last year.  Every time I sing “Christ is Enough“, I think of that picture:

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back
The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back

And if you’re concerned about the “He does not want anyone to be destroyed” part (what kind of a Good God would destroy people?), I was too.  Check out Reconciling Wrath.

And what about that voice yelling “heresy!”?  Jesus redeemed that.

This is what the Sovereign Lord,
 the Holy One of Israel, says:
 “Only in returning to me
 and resting in me will you be saved.” Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)

 

 

Reconciling Wrath (Part 6)

This is the last part of my “redeemed” mini-series.  How about a recap?  Here’s what I’ve known for the last year:

1) Sin is simply us “turning away” from God
2) Jesus took on our “turning away” on the cross
3) God loves us and isn’t angry with us for being imperfect

So, what’s the problem?  Why has my fuse gotten shorter and shorter all year?  Why have I become increasingly irritated and frustrated, hopeless and annoyed?

One thing still didn’t compute.  If “God is good, all the time” and “All the time, God is good”, what’s the deal with “the wrath of God”?  The Bible has a LOT to say about the wrath of God and I couldn’t see how a Good God could be so full of wrath, yet so loving at the same time.

However, what I was beginning to understand, on Saturday, September 13, 2014, was that I had been redeemed.  God made that very clear all day.  When I sat down at church the next morning, after the pity-party that never materialized, I felt like God had me on “download” mode and I had better get my pen ready.  The first thing I wrote was “Jesus redeemed that”, referring to my desire to have a pity-party.  Then I wrote this:

“What is the wrath of God?  His wrath is the natural consequence of turning away from Him.  It’s MY CHOICE.  Jesus redeemed that.  God wants to love me and He does, but I keep choosing to turn away to hopelessness, self-pity, indifference, whining.  That stuff is His wrath.  Jesus died for that.  He took on my “turning away”.  He turned away from God ONCE FOR ALL.  He redeemed that.  He bought it.  It’s no longer mine.  When I turn away and feel that WRATH, the devil tells me I deserve it.  I turned away and it’s my fault, I’m bad, I SHOULDN’T do that and I SHOULD turn back.  NO!  Jesus redeemed that.  I GET TO turn back because Jesus redeemed it.  I OWE NOTHING.  I don’t owe it to Him.  It’s DONE.”

Sunday afternoon, I watched the “redeemed” part of the Beth Moore simulcast where it had frozen on Saturday.  It was cool, but God kept nudging me to go do my Beth Moore “Children of the Day” study.  My friend and I have been working through that study since July, very sporadically.  When we watched the video for week 4 (out of 9 weeks), we realized that our timing was perfect.  Every session has spoken to us exactly when we needed it.  I’m only on week 5 of the study in the workbook, because there’s really no need to be any further ahead.

Sunday afternoon, I followed the nudging and opened my workbook to the next homework assignment, which was Day 3 of Week 5.  Get this.  It was titled “Wrestling with Wrath“.  Beth had already done the research and gave me lots of scripture about God’s wrath.  His “wrath” in the original Greek is actually, “desire with grief and sorrow”.  Man’s type of wrath is translated from the Greek as “the outburst of a vengeful mind”.  God’s wrath is not like ours.  It is a profound sadness that the people He created can choose to turn away from Him, knowing that our turning away is not what is best for us.  We were made to be in communion with Him, but He is a gentleman and won’t make us.  And robotic love is not real love.  It has to be our choice.  But I was convinced that I owed God something “for all He’s done for me”, and I was so sick of trying that I had turned away.

Since Sunday, September 14, I’ve been telling myself “Jesus redeemed that” with every thought that I think that has anything to do with “should” or guilt over what I did or didn’t do or thought.  AND I BELIEVE IT because my theology is finally reconciled.  It’s not a conflict.  Bard Millard, MercyMe’s head man, said that he got to the point where he couldn’t sell the gospel.  It wasn’t good news.  That’s where I had gotten to.  I couldn’t sell Jesus.  He wasn’t good news.  He was more work.  How could I sell that with good conscience?

I’ve walked around with more LIGHTNESS and joy for the last three weeks, I can’t explain it other than the perfect gift of God.  I can laugh and joke and I don’t have this heaviness that I have to keep dragging around, trying to do better and be better, but always feeling guiltier and guiltier about how I REALLY feel.  How I really feel now is REALLY good news.

Check out the lyrics to MercyMe’s “Wishful Thinking”, which they sang at the concert that Saturday night.  I especially love the first verse and the “better late than not at all” verse.  This song spoke to me so loudly after my 20 year journey with Jesus.  Thanks for reading!

“Wishful Thinking” by MercyMe

Lord is it possible to get this far
And just now understand who You are?
I’m feeling foolish yet relieved as well
Cuz what I bought before, I just can’t sell

But now my eyes are open wide
If this is wrong
I don’t wanna be right

Could it be that on my worst day
How You love me still will not change
What if it’s really not about
What I do but what you did, oh what if

This ain’t wishful thinking it’s just how it is
This ain’t wishful thinking it’s just how it is

Well, I guess I’m better late than not at all
Or did you plan it this way all along
Cuz without suffering grace is hard to see
So maybe I’m right where I’m supposed to be

And now, I’m seeing You so differently
And only I can say is finally

Click here for Part 7

Redeemed – Part 1

Something amazing happened on September 13 & 14. I’ve been a Christian for 20 years, but nothing like this has ever happened before. I’m trying to piece it all together so that I can write about it here, but there is so much that I really need to do it in pieces.

My friend and I live-streamed Beth Moore’s “Living Proof Live” simulcast on Saturday, September 13th at my house.  During the simulcast, there were a few times where the live stream “stuck” and I had to refresh the screen. Beth was teaching us her “Identity Declaration” (click or see below) and she got to “I am a woman of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ” and the screen stuck. By the time I got it refreshed, she was on to the next point. “Redeemed” struck me and I knew I wanted to go back and watch that part again.  However, we were all headed to the Third Day/ MercyMe concert at DTE Energy later that afternoon, so “redeemed” would have to wait.

Even though I bought the concert tickets for all of us to see Third Day, we were blown away by MercyMe. Bart Millard, their lead singer, has been on an amazing road to transformation over the last couple years and it was exciting to hear his story. He spoke and sang a LOT about redemption and the word “redeemed” kept sinking further and further into my bones. Their music was upbeat and invigorating, their harmonies were beautiful, we loved every minute. It was late when we got home and I was ushering at church the next morning, so we had to get to bed to get up early.

I normally sit with John when I usher, but on this particular morning, the two seats next to John were taken by two other ushers. I’m new to this particular usher team, so they didn’t know they were sitting next to my husband. It was the 10:30 service, so it was crowded and most seats were already filled. I was trying to figure out where I was going to sit and found myself on the verge of a pity-party crying mess. Tears were starting to fill my eyes, but I told myself, “No, you’re not going to do this today. What a silly reason to be crying anyway!” I walked up to where John was sitting and realized that there was ONE seat right behind him and the two usher ladies and I grabbed it. The tears never materialized. 🙂 I sat down in my seat to listen to Chris Zarbaugh’s message, but God had other plans. I started writing and the first thing I wrote was “Jesus redeemed that.”

The next day I received an email survey from LifeWay, looking for feedback from Saturday’s simulcast. Beth Moore told us at the simulcast that she was praying that God would give a specific word to each of the 190,000+ women who were watching. She said that if 190,000 women heard from God and RESPONDED, we could certainly have a huge impact on this hurting world. Here’s what I wrote to LifeWay:

“God spoke! Beth’s prayers were answered in my life. He gave me a word and that word is “redeemed”. I have struggled with so many things for so long: depression, hopelessness, wanting to give up, and I’ve “tried” to do better and be better and I want Jesus to help me, but all of my “tricks” aren’t working anymore. I think wrong thoughts and then I feel guilty for thinking wrong thoughts and it just spirals downward. This weekend God told me “Jesus redeemed that”.

Every thought – Jesus redeemed that.

The guilt about the thought – Jesus redeemed that.

Not wanting to get up and do anything – Jesus redeemed that.

Getting up and doing something, puffing up my ego and pride – Jesus redeemed that.

Doing things to get attention – Jesus redeemed that.

Getting mad at my kids – Jesus redeemed that.

Feeling overwhelmed and anxious – Jesus redeemed that.

Scared to open an email, wondering if I can handle what I’m being asked to do – Jesus redeemed that.

Everything I’ve ever done or said or thought or will ever do or say or think – Jesus redeemed that.

So, I can hold my head up high and thank my Savior. Thank you, Beth. Thank you, Jesus. Glory to God.”

To be continued…

Click here for Part 2.

Identity Declaration from Beth Moore's 9-13-14 Living Proof Live Simulcast
“Identity Declaration” from Beth Moore’s 9-13-14 Living Proof Live Simulcast