"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

10,000 Reasons

Lent snuck up on me.

I guess it makes sense that it did.

I've been buried in homework for weeks,

Barely getting enough sleep to stay awake in class.

I've made time for God,

I always do,

But that doesn't mean that the first thing that crossed my mind a week ago was, "Oh, today's Ash Wednesday."

In fact, I didn't even realize it until I saw people from a local Episcopal church giving out "Ashes to Go".

I'd been planning to do something,

Give up something,

Fast from something,

But I hadn't even had time yet to think of anything.

I wasn't sure what to do.

All the things I really wanted to give up I couldn't,

Not because I didn't want to,

Not because I wasn't willing to,

Just because of various circumstances in my life right now.

I finally settled on giving up drinks from the cafe,

Food from vending machines,

And late-night snacks.

Not a huge sacrifice.

Maybe next year I'll be able to give up something better . . .

Like TV . . .

(If only I could avoid it when I go home!)

Too bad I can't give up using the computer . . .

(If only I didn't have to do homework and check emails all the time!)

I was using the computer last Thursday.

I'd had this song stuck in my head since we sang it in church last Sunday,

So I got on YouTube and played it,

Sang along.

"You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find." 

My much-younger brother was listening.

"No one can know ten thousand reasons," he said.

That got me thinking.

I bet there are ten thousand reasons.

I bet there are ten thousand times ten thousand reasons.

I don't know if it's possible for me to know them all,

But if it is, I want to.

I want to find ten thousand reasons,

Ten thousand reasons to bless the Lord,

Ten thousand reasons to just worship God.

I wanted to go deeper than that, though.

I've been learning a lot lately about how God-centric the Gospel is,

How He does everything for His glory.

As of last night, I've counted 7239 gifts,

7239 reasons to worship God,

And that is a good,

And wonderful,

And God-honoring thing,


This time I want to count reasons to worship God for who He is,

For the amazing things that He has done that I am completely incapable of,

For His love and His justice,

For parted waters and a sun that stood still in the sky.

I don't want to stop giving thanks for the beautiful, everyday miracles,

For the endless, abundant graces,

But I do want to dig even deeper,

To count something different,

To know Him even better.

I also wanted these to be true and accurate,

Not just ideas I'd pulled out of the air,

Ideas I'd been fed by the American church and its religion,

With its me-centeredness and Christianized version of the American Dream.

(Yeah, those aren't the best links.  Sorry.  I've spent too long working on this already.  I might come back and change them later.)

I wanted to go straight to the source,

So I decided to find one Scripture reference -

Just one, even though for many of these things I could probably find at least twenty -

So I would know that these reasons weren't made up by me,

But that they are true,



And I wanted to know where to find them,

How I could go back and see them again and again and again.

Once I know God better,

Have a more complete view of who He is,

I don't want to forget.

So, in short, here's my Lenten goal,

Not really a fast, but a refocusing:

  • To count a minimum of 10 reasons - 10 God-centric reasons - each and every day during this season to worship God, including (but not necessarily limited to) aspects of His character and displays of His power.
  • To find one Scripture reference for each reason so that I know I'm not just making this up, making sure that the Scripture supports the reason when taken in context.
  • To let this exercise bring me closer to God, that I might know Him better and know Him for who He is, that I might worship the God of the Bible, not some idol I've formed in my mind through the things I've heard and my own misconceptions.

Not really that difficult,

No more difficult than counting one thousand gifts,

Just a little more time-consuming.

400 reasons

Paired with 400 Scriptures

By the end of Lent.

I knew it'd be good for me.

I didn't know how much it'd change me.

Only six days in, I went,

Worshiped with a few friends,

And I sang along,

I didn't speak up,

But I wanted to,

For every song we sang was about me.

"I will worship You because You have saved me.

You died for me.

You love me.

Me, me, me, me, me."

And it's all true,

And it's all good,


As a songwriter,

I very much know the power and worth of a song about me,

How the me can draw me closer to Him,

But that wasn't what I wanted,

Wasn't what I needed.

I was sick of singing about me.

Yes, You died for me, but You did it for Your glory.

Yes, You love me, but that's part of Your character.

I have done nothing to deserve this.

Can we just sing about that?

Better yet, can we stop singing about me period?

Can we just sing "Holy!"?

I just want to sing "Holy! Holy! Holy!"

In the midst of this mess,

In the midst of everything going on right now,

The last thing I want is to sing about me.

I just want to sing about You,

To know You reign,

To let that truth become real to my heart.




We finally ended with something slightly less about me,

Sang about His beauty,

And I cried.

Just a little,

But I did,

Heart crying out to know Him,

And knowing Him causing me to just want to praise Him,

Not for all He's done for me,

(Which, of course I'll never stop praising Him for,)

But simply because He is,

Because He is God.

It reminded me of Aaron Gillespie's testimony,

How he said the people in Africa just worshiped God because He is,

How God spoke to him,

How he felt God's spirit in that place,

How he sobbed to experience them worshiping,

People worshiping for just one reason:

Just because He exists.

I've said for awhile that I wanted that.

Now I'm getting there,

One baby step at a time.

So here it is,

My first 75 reasons,

(I haven't done today's yet)

75 bits of God's character,

75 things He does because of who He is,

75 reasons I should worship Him





  1. He is (Exodus 3:6)
  2. He is who He is – and that never changes! (Exodus 3:14)
  3. He is Transcendent (Acts 17:24)
  4. He is Independent (Acts 17:25)
  5. He is in control (Acts 17:26)
  6. He gives all things life, motion, and being (Acts 17:18)
  7. He is Unchangeable (Psalm 102:25-27)
  8. He lives outside of time (1 Peter 3:8)
  9. He is Everlasting (Psalm 90:2)
  10. He is Almighty (Revelation 1:8)
  11. He is Creator (Genesis 1:1)
  12. He is Omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:24)
  13. He is Spirit (John 4:24)
  14. He is Eternal (1 Timothy 1:17)
  15. He is Immortal (1 Timothy 1:17)
  16. He is Invisible – beyond my powers of perception! (1 Timothy 1:17)
  17. He is the only God (2 Kings 19:19)
  18. He is Omniscient (1 John 3:20)
  19. He ordains all things (Psalm 139:16)
  20. His thoughts are precious (Psalm 139:17)
  21. He is Wise (Job 12:13)
  22. He cannot lie (Titus 1:2)
  23. He is Faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  24. He keeps his covenant to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9)
  25. He is Good (Luke 18:19)
  26. His love endures forever (Psalm 100:5)
  27. His faithfulness never ends! (Psalm 100:5)
  28. He is Loving (Romans 5:8)
  29. He is Merciful (2 Samuel 24:14)
  30. He is Gracious (1 Peter 5:10)
  31. He is Patient (1 Timothy 1:16)
  32. He is Holy (Isaiah 6:3)
  33. He is Wrathful (John 3:36)
  34. He is Peaceful (1 Corinthians 14:33)
  35. He is Great (Deuteronomy 32:3)
  36. He is Perfect (Matthew 5:48)
  37. He is Just (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  38. He is Righteous (Isaiah 45:19)
  39. He is Jealous (Exodus 34:14)
  40. He is Beautiful (Psalm 27:4)
  41. He is Glorious [full of glory] (Psalm 24:8-10)
  42. He speaks and things happen (Genesis 1:3)
  43. He makes everything good (Genesis 1:31)
  44. He rests (Genesis 2:2)
  45. He brings all His good works to completion (Philippians 1:6)
  46. He forms people from dust (Genesis 2:7)
  47. His breath is the breath of life (Genesis 2:7)
  48. His laws are good (Nehemiah 9:13)
  49. He knows what is good and what is not good (Genesis 2:18)
  50. Nothing can be hidden from Him (Genesis 4:9-10)
  51. He is capable of regret (Genesis 4:7)
  52. He causes it to rain (Genesis 7:4)
  53. He opens the springs of the deep and the floodgates of heaven (Genesis 7:11)
  54. He will never forget His children (Isaiah 49:14-16)
  55. He will not abandon those who seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)
  56. He will not destroy those who seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29-31)
  57. He creates the wind, tells it where and when to blow (Genesis 8:1)
  58. He causes the days and the seasons to follow their patterns (Genesis 8:22)
  59. He is the Giver (Genesis 9:3)
  60. He never forgets His covenants (Genesis 9:15-16)
  61. He confuses languages (Genesis 11:7)
  62. He scatters peoples (Genesis 11:9)
  63. He blesses (Genesis 12:2-3)
  64. He is Sovereign (2 Samuel 7:22)
  65. He is a Shield (Genesis 15:1)
  66. He is the very great reward (Genesis 15:1)
  67. He sees (Genesis 16:13-14)
  68. Nothing is too hard for Him (Genesis 18:14)
  69. He destroys the wicked (Genesis 19:24)
  70. He does what He has promised to do (Genesis 21:1)
  71. He hears every cry (Genesis 21:17)
  72. He is Eternal (Genesis 21:33)
  73. He tests (Genesis 22:1)
  74. He provides (Genesis 22:13-14)
  75. He is with us (Genesis 26:24)
(If you want to view the references in multiple versions at once, this site is an incredible resource.  Also, it's helpful to look up even words you think you know the meanings to in a dictionary.  Often there's something there you'd never have thought of on your own.  It might give an even better picture of who God is.)

Many thanks to Matt Redman for the song "10,000 Reasons", the inspiration behind this project.  Thanks also to all others whose work is referenced in this post.  You have inspired me to draw closer to God.

Linking up today at A Holy Experience.  I know it's not exactly a fast, but it is a practice of walking with Him, knowing who He is, drawing closer to Him.

Also, please check out some of these other beautiful posts (links can be found at the bottom).  You might read more about Lenten fasts there.  : )

God bless!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

27 Million

I said it here.

How there are twenty-seven million slaves in the world today,

How it's not just a statistic,

How Matt Redman & LZ7 got together,

Wrote this incredible song to share with the world,

To tell the world of this terrible injustice,

How nearly 45,000 young adults jumped up and down as the music video was filmed,

Every ounce of energy they had

Poured out into the one way they could help the cause of justice

Right there,

Right then.

There is something that you can do, too,

To help free the 27 million.

Right here.

Right now.

The song recorded at Passion,

"27 Million",

Released yesterday on iTunes.

Buy it here and share it with every person you know.

Tell them that slavery still exists

And we have to do something about it.

We are commanded to do something about it.

Isaiah 1:17

New International Version (NIV)

17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
   Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
   plead the case of the widow.


Zechariah 7:8-10

New International Version (NIV)
 8 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

Also, the music video has been officially released -

Hear the words,

See the passion,

The tens of thousands jumping up and down,

Singing at the top of their lungs for freedom.

Let it move your heart.

Let it rock your world.

Let it spur you into action.

27 million.

Not a statistic.

Many thanks to LZ7 and Matt Redman for their amazing work on this song.  Also, many thanks to all of the people who worked hard to make both the audio and video versions a success.  Praying that it reaches the hearts of millions.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"The Heart of Worship"

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come . . .

I love music.

If you know anything about me, you probably know that.

It's my passion.

Of course, even greater than my passion for music

Is my passion for God.

(Well, most of the time.  I'm far from perfect, after all.)

I really enjoy listening to sermons,

Spending time in the Word,

But none of that reaches my heart in the same way that music does.

90% of the songs I sing,

Both the ones that I write and the ones that I don't,

Are about God,

And I sing them straight to Him.

It's how I feel closest to Him,

What moves my heart more than anything else.

I think it's different for everyone,

God made us all to "speak different languages",

To connect with different things,

Know Him best in different ways.

To me, worship is the best part of any church service.

Writing and singing music is the highest form of prayer.

(Not in some deep, theological way.  It's just what makes me feel closest to God.)

Sometimes, though, I get so distracted in worship.

Where I go to church with my friends, cameras film live video,

Project the images up on the screen,

Hands lifted in praise.

My selfish heart is instantly distracted.

"Is that me?

Am I up there?"

It drives



I just want to worship,

Focus on God and get me out of the way.

Why does it have to be so complicated?

I remember how awhile ago,

Someone told me to look up the story behind one of my favorite worship songs,

"The Heart of Worship" by Matt Redman.

Here's an excerpt from this article:
The song dates back to the late 1990s, born from a period of apathy within Matt’s home church, Soul Survivor, in Watford, England. Despite the country’s overall contribution to the current worship revival, Redman’s congregation was struggling to find meaning in its musical outpouring at the time.

“There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered together with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”

Reminding his church family to be producers in worship, not just consumers, the pastor, Mike Pilavachi, asked, “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?”

Matt says the question initially led to some embarrassing silence, but eventually people broke into a cappella songs and heartfelt prayers, encountering God in a fresh way.

“Before long, we reintroduced the musicians and sound system, as we’d gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus, and He commands a response in the depths of our souls no matter what the circumstance and setting. ‘The Heart of Worship’ simply describes what occurred.”
That's where the song comes from.

The lyrics show it, too,

This incredible story: 

When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that's of worth
That will bless your heart.

I'll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear.
You're looking into my heart.

After the worship,

After the sermon,

After we'd all stood and talked for half an hour,

One of my friends sat down on the edge of the stage,

Picked up a guitar,

Started strumming,


I heard him from across the room . . .

"Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin' for to carry me home."

I wanted to go over right then,

Stumbled on my words trying to explain to the people I was talking to.

"I'm going to go . . . sing . . . sorry."

I ran over,

Sat down next to him,

Joined in,

Sang some harmony.

"Swing low, sweet chariot,
Comin' for to carry me home."

Pretty soon, another came over,

Sat on the other side of him,

Then someone sat next to me,

Someone else pulled up a chair,

Another sat on the floor.

Before long, there were about ten of us,

Ten voices and a guitar,



He asked me if I wanted to pick a song.

I flipped through pages of chord sheets,

Found the one I wanted,

Asked if he could play it,

If he knew the chords.

He knew most of them,

Modified a couple slightly,

And we were all singing it there,

Just our voices and a guitar,

No fancy equipment,

None of the typical trappings,

Just us, before God, with nothing to give Him but our hearts:

I'm coming back to the heart of worship,
And it's all about You,
All about You, Jesus.
I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it
When it's all about You,
It's all about You, Jesus.

The song "The Heart of Worship" is written by Matt Redman and preformed by him and numerous other artists.  Many thanks to all of them for delivering this incredible message to so many hearts, including mine.

Also, linking up over here today.  Focusing our hearts on the One who really matters during this season.  (Sorry this isn't exactly what you'd normally think of as "fasting" - maybe fasting from some of this life's many distractions.)

Please consider visiting some of these other wonderful people's posts, all striving to walk with Him and use this season to draw us closer.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Love Really Is

I'm sorry I don't have time for much today,

Haven't had time for a week,

But you need to hear these today,

These two beautiful songs that have spoken to my heart

About what love really, truly is.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Know you are loved

More than you can imagine!

God bless!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Faith is Not a T-Shirt

Come over here today?

I don't know if it's a good one,

But I know that these are words I need to hear over and over and over again.

Faith is not a t-shirt,

It's not the outward appearance.

It's what's in my heart.

Where is my heart?

I've put some lyrics up, too.

A rough draft,

Just written last night.


A bit of a celebration for me,

A celebration of God's grace -

That He allows me to write,

To make music,

Imperfect as it is,

Imperfect as I am -

Only by His grace.

Always only by His grace.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

After the Dome - Passion 2012

I suppose all good things must come to an end.

We loaded the vans and headed home.

I was somewhat surprised that I didn't want to leave.

As much as I love my family, I would rather have stayed there,

Spending every moment of every day

Worshiping God,

Learning about God,

Discussing God,

Doing God's work.

Before I knew it, we were back.

I went home,


Read my Bible.

I got into bed at 5 A.M.

I woke up about eight hours later

Feeling different than I've ever felt

Any morning of my life.

I woke up and my sole desire,

My only thought,

My highest priority

Was to praise God.

I was literally lying in bed,

Hand stretched out above my head,



So in love,

So in awe.

It was incredible.

I'd never felt that way before.

Even more incredible,

I actually wanted to get out of bed.

That never, ever happens.

I am in no way, shape, or form a "morning person".

I like to get about ten hours of sleep a night, whenever possible.

Not that time.

I wanted to get out of bed.

I wanted to go live

And praise God

And serve God.

It was incredible!

I'd never felt that close to God before.

Even a few days later,

Going to church Sunday night,

I was still so in awe,

So in love,

That, when I walked through the doors late,

Heard the band playing,

The people singing "Set Free",

I was literally walking in,


Raising my hand,

And jumping up and down

At the same time.

(I don't usually do that either, though I have been known to on occasion . . .)

I was just so happy to be there,

So happy to have been able to come to praise God,

That I couldn't hold it in.

It was amazing!

Apparently, all those lights are people's iPhone 4s on some kind of strobe light setting.  It looked pretty cool.

Even though I'd been praying for days that it wouldn't,

The spiritual high wore off.

I suppose it was kind of inevitable.

After all, if we lived our lives in the "Christian bubble",

Singing and worshiping and learning about God all day, every day,

We wouldn't be doing what He called us to do,

Going out into the world,

Being in the world but not of it,

Being a light to all people.

Still, I wished I could go back to that,

I wished I could spend all day, every day praising Him.

This kind of seemed odd to me.

I guess I always thought that spending that much time doing something -

Even something as awesome and worthwhile as praising God -

Would eventually get,



I think that was because I'd never experienced it.

I think that now I've caught a glimpse of just how worthwhile it really is.

Spending my time in worship and study was so much better,

Brought me so much more fulfilment,

Made me feel so much more alive,

Than any other thing I've ever pursued.


I have never felt that close to God before.

It was so amazing and incredible that I can't even describe it!

Those iPhones again - there are so many!
There were some things from Passion that didn't fade,

Things I learned,

Things I now know I need to do,

(Again, I'll get into that later - sorry for the long wait!  Here's a hint, if it makes you feel better.)

The desire to know God more,

Or, at least,

The desire to desire to know God more,

The desire to desire God more,

The desire to desire to desire God more,

(Yeah, that is getting to be a bit much.  Sorry, I'll stop now.)

The knowledge that people still believe,

That our God still moves,

Still reigns,

That He can make amazing things happen.

Oh, there is so, so much that will not fade.

Praise God for that,

Even if I can't always feel the closeness.

If you are an 18-25 year old and couldn't come to Passion this year, I would really, really encourage you to find some way to go next year.  God moves in amazing ways at this conference!  You really shouldn't miss it!

"Set Free" is performed by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman (I think - sorry, it's hard to keep track when so many artists congregate in one place and sing songs together).  Many thanks to these people for their beautiful music.

Also, many, many thanks to Sylvia for the beautiful post "Poured Out" (my "hint").  This retelling of a great explanation of 2 Kings 4:1-7, coupled with the author's personal response to the message, has a lot to do with what I learned from Passion.

To read more about my experience at Passion, check out these posts:
     At the Dome - Passion 2012
     Incomprehensible - Passion 2012
     I Went Expecting - Passion 2012
     Do Something Now - Passion 2012
     After the Dome - Passion 2012

Linking up over here today, desiring to walk with Him, or at least desiring to desire to walk with Him.  (Speaking of which, the desiring to desire thing is similar to "I want to want to . . .", which I picked up from Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love.  Many thanks to this incredible author and speaker for his words and inspiration.)

Also, please take the time to look at some of the other posts at the bottom of this one, maybe offer the authors some encouragement if you like their posts?  It's a blessing to know you've blessed.


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