Video

Hurricane by Natalie Grant

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

This story in Matthew 14 inspired Natalie Grants song, Hurricane. When I heard her explain the inspiration, it filled me with such joy. The chorus to this song speaks a message of hope and that it’s never too late to take a hold of what God has given us.

Jesus calls us to take courage and trust in him: a trust strong enough to walk on waterHow great is our God that we need not be afraid of wind, rain, or any other trouble? Jesus is here! He’s reaching out His hand for us – and those who don’t know Him – to take it! We should rejoice in that fact and feel comforted.

When we are dragged down by the things of this world, the only thing we need to do is call His name, and He will find us in the midst of our troubles. No problem, emotion, or whatever our “hurricane” may be is too big for Him. He will find us, even in the middle of a raging storm when all hope seems lost.  We just need to have faith enough to step out on the edge of the boat, and trust that He is guiding us in the right direction.

The video shows lyrics along with it, but in case you want to read them separately, here is the link to follow! http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/nataliegrant/hurricane.html

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Video

You by Hillsong

From time to time, we all find songs that really stick with us. Whether it’s because the song is great musically, or just has awesome lyrics that inspire you, music speaks to us in a way that simple words cannot. Psalm 135:3 tells us to rejoice with song, “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for it is pleasant!” For me, I know I receive no better joy than when I’m praising God through music. Something deep inside of me wants to dance and sing and cry at the same time! Sounds crazy, right?

The first time I listened to Christian music, I was skeptical. To be honest, I had never listened to it because I thought it was all the same, just hymns or choral music (which I have nothing against!). But a good friend of mine showed me the radio station KLove, and from there my music horizons broadened! If you’re already familiar with KLove or Christian music, chances are you know this song. If you don’t normally listen to this genre, this is a great song to start off with I think!

You by Hillsong is upbeat and is definitely one of those songs that makes me want to jump up and down with praise! The electronic keyboard in the beginning is a little different than other versions I’ve heard, so make sure you give the song a chance if you’re not too keen on it at first.

Aside from being joyous from a musical aspect, this song has great lyrics that you should meditate on before you listen. Here’s a link to the full lyrics (http://www.lyricsfreak.com/h/hillsong/you_20894683.html) but there’s a couple lines I want to point out and elaborate on first.

“The worst of me succeeded by the best of You.” Even on our worst days, we are reminded that Christ has redeemed us. But it shouldn’t stop there, as we should strive to become the type of best that Jesus exemplified.

“Steal all that is within me/Cause all I want in this world is more of You.” Through our every day routines, it can be easy to forget about the teachings of Christ. I think very few people can say that every minute of every day they consciously think about their religion. But that’s what this verse reminds us of: we need God to fill every bit of us so that He becomes most important in our lives.

“Increasing as I fade away/Your light for all the world to see…/Lord make my life transparent/Your life in mine displayed.” As we begin to truly live out the word of God, it becomes easier for others to see what Christianity is really about. If we live out His word, then our own agendas are pushed to the side and displayed instead is the Good News.

Below is a live version of “You” performed by Hillsong. Follow along with the lyrics. Really think about what our lives would be like if we truly let ourselves fade away to be replaced by Christ.

The Challenge of Love, Part 1

Today marked the start of classes for my university. Planning and scheduling for my switch of majors has made things complicated, but somehow college students seem to find a way to pull through. Management 301 was the second and last class of the day for me. The textbook for the class pointed out an important detail when it comes to businesses and how they function: Managers, supervisors, and companies overall work best when both customers and employees are cared for. Many times companies focus all their effort on pleasing the customer, causing the employee well-being to be put on the back-burner. Studies have proven the theory that employees work best when they are happy and comfortable in the workplace. I’m sure anyone who has had a job – especially one in customer service – can attest to this.

So where am I going with this thought? The theory of pleasing your workers to improve customer relations got me wondering about Christians and one of Jesus’ greatest teachings. Luke 10:27 says to love your neighbors as you love yourself. Preceding that in Luke 6:31-34, we see the famous golden rule of treating others the way we want to be treated. As a Christians, you may encounter roadblocks when you try to love others as you love yourself because..

What if you don’t love yourself? 

So many people – devoted Christians included – suffer from depression or some form of self-doubt. If I don’t love who I am, how am I expected to love someone else the same way? It creates an ongoing battle within to truly follow the word of God. Maybe that is why some of us find it so difficult to show others love. When I get some sort of negative feeling toward another person, I stop and think, “What exactly don’t I like in this person?” And often times, the answer comes back as the things I don’t like in myself. This person is too brash, too loud, doesn’t listen to others, etc., yet I can just as easily turn the table and find those faults in myself.

There are several steps to really following the passages found in the book of Luke, beginning with recognizing our own faults. It would be hypocritical of anyone – Christians included – to believe we are above others. Even though we have these faults, the next step is forgiving ourselves for them. Yes, sometimes I can get impatient and too caught up in my own feelings to even begin thinking about someone else’s. But now I know that is a problem, so I can recognize when situations like these arise, pause and rethink, and then hopefully correct the issue. If I’ve forgiven my faults and attempted to correct them, it becomes easier to forgive others for similar wrongdoings. Instead of creating this divide of, “I’m better than you,” it would be much more beneficial to recognize the faults we all share and work together towards accepting one other.

If we forgive ourselves, it becomes easier to truly love the person we are. When we love our inner self, the love we show for others will be automatic, and the word of God can be lived through us.

Are you there, Maggie? It’s me, God.

I recently watched the 1977 movie “Oh, God!” starring George Burns, John Denver, and Teri Garr. A very endearing movie, “Oh, God!” followed a manager who was contacted by God to spread the news that He was still watching over us. God, played by Burns, answered several tough questions that many of us today wonder. He went on to say that while He hears us, He doesn’t always listen. The movie took the stance that since God gave humans free will, we should – for the most part – be able to figure out our own messes without the intervention of the Creator. This was the only part of the movie that I didn’t wholeheartedly  agree with. It just seemed to render all of my thoughts and prayers useless if God doesn’t listen to us. I like to believe that He both hears and listens to our needs. Yes, it’s a movie and I don’t have to like every part of it, but it did raise an interesting question in my mind. What if it were the opposite? Instead of God being the one who doesn’t listen, what if it were us? A devotional I read this morning said to take five minutes to block out the noise of the world and listen to God.

Whether you are religious or not, take a few minutes to do that before you continue on. Turn off the TV, go to a quiet space, and just listen.

Did you hear anything?

If you felt that God spoke to you, that’s great! You were able to accomplish what I couldn’t. While I did feel calmer and more relaxed afterward, I wasn’t able to block out the loudest noise of all: myself. For no more than five seconds could I achieve complete silence in my own head! My voice in my head kept speaking. Whether it was saying, “Listen, listen!” or drifting off into my plans for packing, or even just thinking of what I should have for breakfast, I could not put my thoughts aside to hear what God might be telling me.

All of this made me wonder: How often do we listen instead of expecting God to? For those that grew up in a religious household, you were expected to pray before dinner, before sleeping, or while you’re in church. But how many of those households set a specific time for you to shut up and do the listening for once? How many times have we missed a message because we were too busy rattling off more things we think need fixed?

I know I failed the hearing test. Not because I didn’t hear Him speak to me, but because I couldn’t keep quiet long enough to really listen. Of all the daily regiments we have, it should be easy to set aside five extra minutes to attempt to listen. Learn to be quiet and forget about grades or work or your social life, even for just a few moments. When we learn to be quiet, we might just pick up on a pretty incredible message.

Good Feelings

We search for things that make us feel good, whether it’s through other people, alcohol, or drugs. I have recently discovered, however, that I receive no greater “high” than the one I feel when I’m at church praising God. Singing, clapping, jumping up and down in praise; these things fill me with joy. And with further analysis, I’ve realized that praising God makes me feel good for the rest of the day! This good feeling lasts much longer than anything you would receive from drinking or smoking. Need to calm down? Don’t turn to a cigarette! Turn a few pages in your Bible and meditate over Christ’s words. Want to get pumped and excited? Forget alcohol and marijuana! Blast “You” by Hillsong (incidentally my go-to song at the moment) and sing your heart out while you jump up and down!

Ultimately, it comes down to what we think makes us feel good in a moment versus what can make us feel good the rest of our lives. I struggle in my own ways with momentary lapses of things I attempt to replace the good feeling of God with. But if something makes you feel ashamed and guilty afterward, is it really that good? As children of God, we must be aware of the struggle with worldly things and try to replace seemingly “good feelings” given to us by earthly substances with those of a higher calling. Just remember to place your importance in the higher calling, the higher promise – the higher feeling.