Tag Archives: Casting Crowns

Don’t Miss Today

We plan to serve others
Tomorrow, next week
Six months from now

But don’t miss chances
to encourage and uplift today

Let us see the way
Lord, show us how

_______________________________

This poem for Day #29 of NaPoWriMo is inspired by The Very Next Thing by Casting Crowns.

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My Blogging Anniversary: Pondering Deep Water Faith

Today is the 6th anniversary of the day I started this blog. I decided to see what I had posted that day. I’d forgotten how excited I’d been to start blogging; I posted 4 articles in that one day!

I thought I’d share one of those posts today and how things have changed since I posted it. The title of that post was “Deep Water Faith in the Shallow End,” and it said this:

I posted this awhile back in my notes on Facebook, so if you’ve read my notes you’ve seen this. But I’m having so much fun with how easy it is to blog, I thought I’d post this here, too. I can’t believe how  easy this is.

“Deep water faith in the shallow end” is a line in a song by Casting Crowns called “Somewhere in the Middle.” I’ve been listening to that CD in my car lately, and this line has really stuck in my head. As I hear it, I realize it applies to me. I have deep water faith. I trust that God can do anything and that with Him so can I. I trust that His plans for me are far greater than I can imagine, and that I will never be alone or lost as long as I follow Him.

And yet, here I stand in the shallow end of life. I don’t act on that deep water faith very often (though when I do I am amazed at the results). I wonder why I don’t just plunge into the deep end and grab hold of what God has in store.

The line of the song before this one is “reckless abandon wrapped in common sense.” Maybe that’s it. I listen too much to the common sense the world has taught me. I hear about what can’t be done and I think it to be true. I need to remember and believe that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now that’s deep water faith.

So what’s changed since I wrote this? Well, God has literally taken me into deeper water than I ever thought I’d go when I went snorkeling in 2014, and when I snorkeled again in 2015 in even deeper waters. He did that by calling me to trust in Him, to have deep water faith. He used that literal deep water experience to teach me something about Himself and His faithfulness.

As a result, I have begun to venture into figurative deep water in other areas of my life, especially what I’ve been writing on my blog. I’ve written more about my story of suffering and pain, and how it led me to healing and redemption in Christ. God has given me the courage to share so much that I once felt I had to keep secret.

The results have been amazing blessings and a closer relationship with God. I’ll be posting about one such blessing of stepping out in faith and writing about my experience with abortion on Monday, but you’ll have to come back to see what it is.

But I still don’t think I’ve ventured into the truly deep water yet. I’m not in the shallow end anymore, but there’s still more I could write, that I know I need to write.

Last night I attended the Faith & Culture Writers Connection with guest speaker Romal Tune. One of the things he said resonated with me. He said that we are afraid to write what we fear we’ll be judged for, but that we have to remember that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). I realized that although there are certain things I’ve been willing to share, there are other things—I’ll call them the in between things—that I’ve wanted to leave out.

Then this morning I had an early morning dream—between being awakened by my husband’s alarm and finally having to get up for mine—in which I was going snorkeling, and someone I was with wanted to go out deeper. I refused, choosing to stay closer to shore in the reef area, because I was certain there were sharks in the deeper water.

And there probably are sharks in the deeper water of honesty and openness. There are those who will judge, but they don’t matter, because God has forgiven me by the blood of Christ. I will triumph “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of [my] testimony.” Revelation 12:11.

And so, I’m going to venture into the deep water over the next year. I may not jump off the boat mid-ocean, but little by little, as the Holy Spirit leads, I will go into the deep water God has called me to.

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O Come O Come Emmanuel

We are now in the season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas. I decided that for Music Monday during Advent and through the day after Christmas I want to share some of my favorite Christmas songs and why I like them.

The first Christmas song I want to share is “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” It is the perfect song to begin Advent because Advent is when we look forward to the coming of Emmanuel, God with us. I love this song because it reminds me of my favorite name for Jesus, which is Emmanuel. I am always awed by the thought that God would choose to come to earth as a human being, in the body of a little baby, to be with us.

I want to share two different versions. The first is a haunting instrumental version by Casting Crowns. Even though it doesn’t have the words, I can hear the words in my head when I listen to it.

The second version is by Jadon Lavik and is more upbeat, but just as beautiful. I first heard it on a CD of various artists that I bought last year.

I hope you will allow this beautiful song to prepare your heart for the coming of our Lord, both His first coming as a baby in a manger, and His second coming that is yet to be. Emmanuel came to be with you, to know you and that you might know Him. He came to ransom you and me just as He came to ransom captive Israel. He came to set the captives free.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 (NIV).

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Jesus, Friend of Sinners Like Me

For the past few days I’ve been listening to Casting Crowns’ new CD “Come to the Well.” My favorite song is City on a Hill, which I’ve written a post about before. But another song, which I remember them singing at the concert I went to in October, has caught my attention. It’s called Jesus, Friend of Sinners. It is classic Casting Crowns in the way it speaks to the Christian and calls us to be more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees. The verse that kept jumping out at me was this:

Nobody knows what we’re for
Only what we’re against
When we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs
Crossed over the lines
And loved like You did

There is another great verse in this song that is based on the story of the woman caught in adultery, which is one of my favorite accounts of Jesus interacting with real people. The story is recorded in John 8:1-11 (NIV):

1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

   But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 11 “No one, sir,” she said.

   “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I love this story because it reminds me that Jesus accepted me just the way I was when He found me. He did not condemn me. But He also did not just leave me as I was. He said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” He called me to Himself and called me to be holy by His power, in the strength of His Holy Spirit.

Jesus was the friend of sinners because it was sinners who needed Him and who He knew would respond to Him. It is sinners who are wounded because of their sin and need healing. As a friend He calls us to follow Him, to lean on Him and to be better than we could ever be without Him.

As His people, Jesus did not call us to judge the wounded of the world, but to love them and bring them to Him for healing, so that they might find His mercy and righteousness. It is knowing Jesus that gives the wounded sinner the ability to choose holiness, to leave their sin and wounds behind. It doesn’t happen instantly, but as His people grow closer to Jesus, the farther they go from their life of sin.

Who do you know who is among the wounded, living a life of sin? Have you spent too much time judging them and not enough showing them the love of Jesus? Remember, it’s not your job to cure their sinful life. Your job is to introduce them to the One who can.

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More Hope for the Hopeless

Last week I devoted my Music Monday post to a playlist of “music that is particularly helpful to people who are in less than hopeful situations.” I ran out of time to create a complete list of my favorite encouraging songs, so today I’m posting part two of my list. The songs on this list are ones that recognize that we all go through struggles and challenges in life, but that God is there as our hope and our refuge in times of trouble. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start.

Once again I’ve linked to a YouTube video of each song instead of embedding the video so that this post doesn’t become unwieldy and overly long. Each video will open in a new window or tab of your browser so this page will remain open and easy to get back to.

By Audio Adrenaline

By Casting Crowns

By Jars of Clay

By Sanctus Real

By Third Day

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Psalm 63 – Shadow of Your Wings

The other day one of my fellow bloggers posted part of Psalm 63 on Facebook, and it reminded me of the song by Casting Crowns called “Shadow of Your Wings,” which is based on that Psalm. So I decided for Psalm Sunday this week I wanted to post Psalm 63 along with a video of how Casting Crowns put it to music.

Psalm 63

    A psalm of David. When he was in the Desert of Judah.

 1 O God, you are my God,
   earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
   my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
   where there is no water.

 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
   and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
   my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
   and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
   with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

 6 On my bed I remember you;
   I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
   I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you;
   your right hand upholds me.

 9 They who seek my life will be destroyed;
   they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
   and become food for jackals.

 11 But the king will rejoice in God;
   all who swear by God’s name will praise him,
   while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

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Trusting in the Midst of Chaos

I heard a new-to-me Sanctus Real song at the Casting Crowns concert on Friday night that really touched me. It is from their 2008 CD titled We Need Each Other. The name of the song is “Whatever You’re Doing (Something Heavenly)” and I found the official Sanctus Real video on YouTube:

I bought their 3-CD Anthology at the concert, and it includes this CD. I have listened to this song over and over, pondering what it means for me.

I’ve experienced a lot of healing in my life thanks to my dear Jesus. But I’ve come to realize lately that there is more to be done. I have felt lately that God is doing something inside of me; He is trying to tell me it is time for complete healing.

Whatever He is doing it does feel a bit like chaos inside of me, quite a bit actually. Some days I don’t like it and I find it hard to surrender. But beneath and through it all there is a peace I can’t explain. I trust completely that He knows what He’s doing, even if I don’t understand. As thoughts and emotions swirl seemingly out of control sometimes, I do know that He is in control and that what He is doing is something heavenly.

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The Fading Light of the City on the Hill

I had a great time at the Casting Crowns concert last night! But it was so much more than just a concert – it was a wonderful night of worshipping God and allowing Him to work in my heart on some things that need work. There are a number of things I could focus on in writing about thoughts I had on songs that were played, and I’m sure some of those songs will be the subject of my Music Monday posts over the next few weeks. But today I want to share one of the songs that is on Casting Crowns’ upcoming CD Come to the Well that is due out October 18. This song is called City on the Hill and you can listen to it by clicking on the title – the link will take you to a RootMusic page with an audio file of the song.

“City on the Hill” is a very convicting song about division in the Church today. We are called to be a city on a hill shining the Light of Christ to a hurting world. But as we fight over petty differences we cause that Light to fade so that the world can barely find it.

The Light has not been extinguished, and it never will. But if Christians continue to focus on what we are against then the world will never see the Light that our negativity obscures. If we continue to be critical of one another about things that are not essential to the faith then the Light will be obscured even to those within the Church. If we focus on our preferences in the style and conduct of worship instead of on spreading the love and Light of Christ to a hurting world then we fail to do the will of God.

Such division is not new. Paul wrote warning the early Church in Rome to avoid divisions that would cause the Light of Christ to fade: “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Romans 16:17-18 (NIV).

You see the poets thought the dancers were shallow
And the soldiers thought the poets were weak
And the elders saw the young ones as foolish
And the rich man never heard the poor man speak

Each one thought that they knew better
But they were different by design
Instead of standing strong together
They let their differences divide

But it was the rhythm of the dancers
that gave the poets life
It was the spirit of the poets
that gave the soldiers strength to fight

It was the fire of the young ones
It was the wisdom of the old
It was the story of the poor man
that needed to be told

I see this in the Church today, each one thinking they know better. Christians who because of grace should know better arguing over the kind of music to be played in worship or how the prayers should be conducted, disagreeing over the “right” way to do things. Denominations disagree over whether a strict liturgy should be followed or whether a worship service should be free to be led by the Spirit.

The big problem in that last sentence is the word “should.” There is no right and wrong when it comes to worship style or other nonessential differences in the Church, as long as the focus is on the Light of Christ and the Glory of God. We are different by design and all have something to give to fuel the awesome Light of the City on the Hill. If we honor those differences while lifting up our Savior then the world will be able to find the City on the Hill. Let us stand strong together on our Rock and Redeemer and not let our differences divide.

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Concert Previews – My Tuesday Three

For My Tuesday Three this week I decided to share one song from each of the three bands that are playing at the Casting Crowns concert this coming Friday. No commentary, just the videos. Hope you enjoy them.

The Afters, “Lift Me Up” from Light Up the Sky CD:

Sanctus Real, “‘Til I Got to Know You” from Pieces of a Real Heart CD:

Casting Crowns, “Prodigal” from Lifesong CD:

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The World Needs Jesus

I am starting to get really excited about the Casting Crowns concert that I am going to this coming Friday night. I’ve been listening to some of their music, which I love! But as I listened to The Altar and the Door, which happens to have some of my favorite songs of theirs on it, I was reminded of one little word in the song “What This World Needs” that has always bugged me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song, but there is just one little word that I would change if I could. So I decided it was time to write down why.

The second verse of the song starts:

What this world needs is for us to care more about the inside than the outside
Have we become so blind that we can’t see
God’s gotta change your heart before He changes your shirt

It’s that word “shirt” that bugs me, for three reasons.

First, it contradicts the first line of the verse. Your shirt is on the outside, and what we need to do is care about the inside, the heart of others.

Second, having faith in Jesus doesn’t do anything to change one’s clothing. To say that it does borders on a type of prosperity gospel, which the actual Gospels don’t support. There are a lot of people who trust in Jesus, who have what the world truly needs, but still have only the shirt on their backs.

Third, the perfect opportunity for a different word that both rhymes and is more Biblically accurate was missed. Whenever I hear this song, I wonder why it doesn’t say “God’s gotta change your heart before He changes your deeds.” The word “deeds” in place of “shirt” would both rhyme with “needs” in the title and elsewhere in the song, and would accurately reflect what happens when God’s love changes your heart. The “deeds” of the believer are changed by God. It might be that past bad deeds are changed to good deeds. Or it might be that one’s good deeds are changed from something done in an attempt to earn favor with God into something done out of gratitude for what Jesus has done to save us.

I do love the basic message of this song. In fairness to the band, I also want to share this explanation that I found by lead singer Mark Hall as to the basis for including the word “shirt” in this song:

“”What This World Needs” has a bit of a venting moment, a rant…more rock than anything we’ve done before… It’s about the fact that the gospel is not confusing people; we’re the ones who confuse people. Christians staple so much stuff to what Jesus says like ‘You can’t dress like that or use that version of the Bible.’ But we have to remember that God has to change people’s hearts before they can change their shirts. They need Jesus, and we need to get out of the way.” – Mark Hall (Casting Crowns)

This does make some sense, and I agree that what has to come first is for God to change the heart of a person. Then it will be God, through His Holy Spirit, who works in the heart of the believer to make us more like Christ. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT).

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