Music Mondays- Who You Say I Am and an old classic :)

On Saturday I shared about my dream house and how my real dream house is in heaven. On Sunday I shared about God our heavenly father. There is song by Hillsong that I love that is about our identity in Christ and also has a reminder about our father’s house. The song is Who You Say I Am.

When I think about identity, I seem to have a few different ones.

To my students I am teacher and in fact they don’t say my name even long after they have finished my class. I can see them ten years later and they still say teacher when they see me which is how they show respect in many cultures I interact with.

Of course there are other ones like friend, brother etc but they use my name.

There are ways that I was identified in the past that I regret because of my mistakes and ones I used to resent because of things others did. I mean who wants to be known as son of an alcoholic or son of a mentally ill parent.

Ultimately the only identity that matters is the one God gives us because that is the one that will last forever. I won’t be teacher in heaven but there will be other roles there. Gladly I won’t have any identities I regret or used to resent in heaven. In God’s eyes, we only have one identity- His Child  thanks to Jesus. In John chapter 1 we read:

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”

Jesus gives us the right, the birthright, to be children of God when we receive him.

I love the song Who You Say I Am because of the lyrics- “I am child of God, I am who you say I am” and “in my father’s house, there’s a place for me.” Beautiful lyrics that express such a wonderful truth. We are who God says we are. We are his children because he says so and he has a place for us.

Okay so for a golden oldie, a classic song from the 1970s. If you can remember that era in Christian music, then you are dating yourself 🙂 haha. There was a group called 2nd Chapter of Acts that was one of the first contemporary Christian music groups. It was a group of 2 sisters and 1 brother. Their harmonies were beautiful. They were pioneers in Christian music along with others.

The group had a song that I love because it reminds us that there is an eternal home waiting for us in heaven. I love the lyrics- “Why should I worry, why should I fret because I have a mansion builder….”

So here is Mansion Builder by 2nd Chapter of Acts. I hope you enjoy it and I hope your Monday is blessed. 🙂

 

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My Dream House

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If I were to have a dream house, one that could be a place the both represents me and one that I would enjoy, it would be as follows:

1 big office for me with a map of the world on the wall, a big globe on a table, room for my books on bookshelves, a desk big enough for my computer and to study at, and of course a VERY comfortable chair for me and some chairs for guests.

1 room for entertainment with a big screen TV, a nice sound system, many comfy recliners, a small fridge for refreshments, and some game tables.

1 kitchen where someone else cooks for me because I am a terrible cook.

2 pools, one indoors for the winter and one outdoors for the summer

A big deck outside for barbecues

A large living room with many comfy chairs for conversation

A nice Master bedroom

Several Guest bedrooms

Okay, so that will not happen in this life. At least I don’t foresee it happening.

BUT

My real dream house, or home, is the one Jesus talked about in John 14 when he told the disciples:

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

This life is temporary and anything we have in this life is temporary. Even the nicest homes in this life will be gone someday. But the home Jesus is preparing for those who believe in him will be eternal and I am sure will BLOW our minds. We cannot fathom how awesome the home is.

An interesting aspect of the culture Jesus was speaking to was that when a man and woman were engaged, the father of the groom would add a room onto the house. When the room was ready, the father would tell the son it was time to bring his bride home. SO when Jesus spoke the words- “In my father’s house are many rooms” and I will come to take to where I am” it would have been a very clear meaning to his disciples.

Yes, it has been 2,000 years, BUT God doesn’t forget us or his promises. When the time is right in God’s eyes, he will say to Jesus, Go get my children, and Jesus will come for us. This post is not about the various views regarding it. This is only an encouragement that one day Jesus will come for us.

A song I love is midnight cry. It is about the moment when God the Father says to Jesus, “Go get my children.” I hope that day comes soon. Today would be great. 🙂 I love this video of the song being sung in a church. Hope you have a blessed weekend and remember that day is getting closer. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Ignoring Weather Warnings What other warnings tend to be ignored?

Living in Nebraska means severe weather warnings happen many times in the spring. Nebraska is in the middle of tornado alley and there have been some bad tornadoes, BUT living in Lincoln Nebraska is a different story.

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There was a tornado warning a few years ago due to one being north of Lincoln. I was visiting some friends from Iraq at the time and thought to myself, “Matt you need to set a good example and have them go to the basement with you.” So off we went to the basement. I told them I would be right back and went to check on things when the sirens stopped. I opened the front door and saw neighbors grilling on their porches. They did offer me a burger 🙂 They did not go to a safe place. I have to admit that if I had been by myself, I would have been outside watching the storm.

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Some people in Lincoln do not take the warnings seriously because we tell ourselves Lincoln has never had a major tornado or tornadoes don’t come here because we live in a valley area. SO I have a theory that if my city ever did have a huge tornado, a lot of people would get hurt because they didn’t take the warning seriously.

It makes me ponder other warnings we don’t take seriously. I really don’t think it is possible anyone living in the U.S. could not know smoking is the worst thing we can do to our bodies, but we still have millions of smokers here.

Jesus would not give an answer to the question his followers asked him about when he would set up his kingdom on earth. He told them the time and day is not for us to know but we are to be busy sharing him and his love with others. However, he did give signs of his return being imminent. He spoke of wars and rumor of wars and that people would be saying peace peace where there is no peace. He spoke of natural disasters. Those signs could be applicable at any time in history, so perhaps that is why we do not take them seriously. Add to the mix the numerous TV “preachers” and the crazy things they do and say and the result can be not taking the fact that Jesus will return someday seriously for even those of the Christian faith.

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All it would take is one killer tornado to hit Lincoln and all of the sudden we would have people taking the warnings very seriously. What will it take for us to take Jesus seriously that our privileged task is to share him with and show his love to others? We will all have a time to give an account for how we lived our lives.

My desire is to show the love of Jesus to as many people as I can and also to live in a way that honors him. But if I am being honest, I miss opportunities for various reasons. However, I don’t know how much time I have left in this life to do that. 1 day? 1 month? 1 year? 10 years? 20 years? Whether it is that my time comes or Jesus returns, how much longer I will be here, I don’t know. What I do know is that he has given me something wonderful to do which is to share him with and to show his love to others until my time in this life is over.

So I guess this isn’t a stereotypical Jesus is coming soon post. It is more of a we don’t know when but we have work to do until that time if we want others to be blessed too when that time comes.

Music Mondays- This Is The Air I Breathe by Marie Barnett, Eres Mi Respirar by Ingrid Rosario, and Meu Respirar by Nivea Soares

The Lord has blessed me to worship in churches in many different languages whether in another country or here in my home city of Lincoln. Worshiping in another language helps me feel connected to the day Revelation 7 talks about:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 

One of my all time favorite worship songs is This Is The Air I Breathe written by Marie Barnett. It has been recorded by several music artists in English, but I like her original version.

I love this song because it reminds me that Jesus is my everything. He provides everything even the air I breathe not only physically, but spiritually as well. Being in his presence gives me strength to go about my day and serve others. On Mondays it helps me to remember that he is my source for everything as I start my week.

I studied Spanish for one year 2010 to 2011. I am not fluent but perhaps at an intermediate level. During that year, I searched for Spanish versions of worship songs  I found a Spanish version of This Is The Air I Breathe- Eres Mi Respirar by Ingrid Rosario. I love being able to come into the presence of Jesus while listening in Spanish. 🙂

I was blessed with the opportunity to study a 3rd language for one year 2013 to 2014, Portuguese. During my second trip to Brazil I found videos by Nivea Soares and loved them. Meu Respirar, a Portuguese version of This Is The Air I Breathe is one of my favorites by Nivea Soares. 🙂

Whatever language we worship in, Jesus knows that language. Whatever language we worship in, we come into his presence and are his children. 🙂

Another Typically Unique Saturday- Sudanese Friends

It was another unique Saturday for me. It was unique because of the diverse people I was blessed to spend time with. Each Saturday I am blessed to experience the richness of the diverse population of my home city Lincoln.

As is the case with each Saturday my morning began with my Saturday morning ESL reading group with my friends from Haiti, Iraq and Japan. We discussed time and the different views of time in various cultures and then read about how concepts and measurements of time have changed over the years.

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me in my Saturday morning classroom

After my morning group, I had the privilege of meeting with a friend from Mexico to help her prepare for a test to become a translator. It was great to catch up on things with her and exciting to be a part of her journey to becoming a translator.

A highlight of my day was interacting with and catching up with some Sudanese friends.

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Sudanese friends beginning to gather at my church

Several years ago the Lord gave me an opportunity to introduce a Sudanese fellowship to my church. I will never forget that day when we went to the church office to meet pastors and staff. About 25 Sudanese came that day with many of them wearing traditional clothing. That was the day that launched my home church into a ministry for Sudanese living in Lincoln. Today was a special gathering, so some came from other cities and states.

I had a meaningful conversation with a girl named Pharma. Over the years when I would see her at church, we would chat a little and it would end with me telling her, “Remember Jesus loves you.” She would always smile. She will graduate high school in a few weeks and then in August she will be going to a university in Omaha and live in the dorms.

My home city Lincoln is very diverse. Our elementary, middle, and high schools have children from over 100 different languages. My church, however, is on the east side of the city, so it is far from the areas where refugees and immigrants normally live. My church did not have much experience with refugees, if any at all, when the Lord first led me to ministry among the refugees living here. To see how my church has embraced the Nuerr speaking Sudanese community encourages me a great deal.

I am writing this on Saturday night because, well mornings are not a good time for writing for me, but on Sunday mornings I look forward to seeing my friends from Nigeria, Haiti, Mexico, Korea, and other countries at church. My church may still be 95% white, but on Sunday mornings as I look over the people in the worship center and see my international friends, I am reminded of what is written in Revelation 7 about the great multitude before the throne from every tribe and nation.

I am grateful to have a very small part in people from every nation being ready for that day. Today Nuerr speaking Sudanese were a highlight, Next Saturday will probably be a different group. Each Saturday in my life is typically unique. No matter which group, I am thankful to reach out to them and experience their culture.

 

Music Mondays- Hope/The Trumphet Shall Sound-Phil Driscoll

Going through life in this world, sometimes we sail along, sometimes we simply walk, and sometimes we trudge barely able to do much because of being bogged down. Monday mornings come and I am usually bogged down by just trying to get back in the flow.

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There have been serious times of being burdened down in  life for me such as the experience of going to several doctors last year over several months last year to find out what was wrong. Family problems can get us down like in my life growing up with an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother.

Jesus has worked in my life in wonderful ways and any difficulties in my past I hope to be of benefit to others as I try to share the love of Jesus with others. It isn’t easy to live for Jesus. Don’t let the TV people fool you. There are struggles. There are trials in life. You can fill in the blanks with your own experiences.

What kept me going last year during a year of pain and doctors? What gave me hope to keep going through adversity? It wasn’t what. It was WHO- Jesus and the fact that one day I will be with him. One day he will come back for those who believe in him. There are different views on what that will be like and this post is not a treatise on those. My focus is on the fact that Jesus will return and we will be changed.

In the 1990s, a group of contemporary Christian music artists got together to do a version of one of my all time favorites- Handel’s Messiah. The artists made Handel’s Young Messiah. Phil Driscoll performed the song “The Trumpet Shall Sound” for the album. Driscoll is a great trumpet player and he also sang the song. So I want to share this video with you of Phil Driscoll performing The Trumpet Shall Sound as a Monday pick me up for you. Hopefully as you listen, whatever you are going through, the song will help you remember that this life is temporary and so are our problems. One day the trumpet will sound and Jesus will come. Until then, we can know him and serve him and know he is with us in every circumstance.

Music Mondays- What A Beautiful Name By Brooke Ligertwood

First of all I want to thank those of you who are following my blog. In recent weeks my followers have grown to now over 50. That may not sound like a big deal for bloggers with a large following, but after the previous four to five years of living with Celiacs symptoms, one of which is foggy brain which shut down my creative side, to get back to this blog means a lot to me and so do those who follow me. SO THANK YOU!!!

Music has helped me through so many ups and downs in life. Last year was one of those times of mostly downs in my life as I went from doctor to doctor to find out what was wrong. I have had other periods in my life when worship music really helped me to keep my focus on God through the dark times in life. There have also been numerous times that God has guided me or shown me something as I have had my times of prayer, coming into his presence.

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So I wanted to start doing Music Mondays for a way to share songs that have meant a lot to me. The songs might be worship songs, Christian music or secular, just me sharing something that has meant something to me in hopes it lifts you up on a Monday. Who doesn’t need a pick me up on a Monday?

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If I share a link for a video, it will only be from the musicians website, from youtube via their website or ministry’s website, or VEVO on youtube.

The first song I want to share is one that perhaps many of you have heard. It is a song that is very fitting for this season of having just celebrated Easter. The song is ‘What A Beautiful Name It Is’ written and performed by Brooke Ligertwood of Hillsong.

When people are dying, they express what is on their hearts. I remember a friend from Korea who had cancer. I met with him to pray several times during the last four months of his earthly life. Each time he shared with me that he was no concerned about himself, but he was very concerned about what would happen to his wife and three young children.

In John 17 the prayer of Jesus before his arrest and subsequent trial, suffering and crucifixion is recorded. Jesus is praying to the Father. Jesus knew his impending suffering was about to begin. In his prayer we see what was on his heart. Jesus prayed in John 17:24- “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am,and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” Jesus himself said that he wanted us in heaven.

There is a wonderful line in the song “What A Beautiful Name’ that goes, ‘You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down’. Jesus wants us to be in heaven with him, so he came to show us God the Father, teach us about God, and in fulfilling his mission to die for our sins and defeat death for us all because he wanted us to be able to be in heaven with him.

Think about it, Jesus WANTS you and me to be in heaven with him. He wants to share heaven with us. Last year as I went through a year of pain, doubt, confusion, and stress of many doctor appointments and tests, that thought helped me to not go down the spiral staircase of despair. That is why this first Music Monday I want to share this song with you. I hope it blesses you as much or more than it has blessed and continues to bless me.

I would love to to know what songs lift you up or what picks you up on a Monday.

Celebrating Freedom- A Karen Refugee and Yazidi Refugees- Their First 4th of July

In my morning Newcomer Refugee class, I currently have a student from Burma, one of The Karen People, and some Yazidi students. They all came here as refugees seeking freedom and safety. Yesterday we talked about the 4th of July and what it means. They all understood the word Freedom.

For my Karen student, freedom means not worrying about the military dictatorship that took over Burma which caused her parents to flee to a refugee camp in Thailand. My student was born in the refugee camp and has never seen her native homeland.

For my Yazidi students, freedom means being safe from the murderous criminals who were committing genocide. It also means they are free to practice their religion without being oppressed or discriminated against.

Freedom is so precious and yet taken for granted by us Americans. We do not have to worry about government troops or police coming into our churches to arrest us, not yet anyway. We are free to practice our faith or to not practice any faith. We do not have people with weapons pointed at us telling us what we must be.

I appreciate my freedom here in America. There is another freedom I look forward to even more than the freedom I have here. It is the freedom from the effects of sin in this world. For now my citizenship is U.S. citizenship. The day will come that either I die or Jesus comes back for us that I will more fully realize what the bible says- “but our citizenship is in heaven.” Only by God’s grace, I have been granted citizenship in heaven. I do not deserve it.

As I help refugees and immigrants here in my hometown, I am constantly mindful that I have dual citizenship- U.S. and heavenly. My desire is to help my newcomer friends with their new lives here in America. My desire is to also show them the love of God, whether it be in ways such as joining them for a meal, listening to them, or teaching them English. I realize that each day I can help them in a much bigger way that is not seen. I can pray for them. I can pray for them because in God’s grace, I have been granted citizenship in heaven and with that comes the birth right to talk to God anytime.

Jesus Laid in the Tomb- His Followers Despair and Lose Hope

Good Friday and Easter Sunday deservedly receive a lot of attention. They are the pivotal events in not only Christianity, but also in History. On Good Friday we remember His sacrificial death for us. On Easter Sunday we remember how He defeated death for us through His resurrection. But what about the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday? The day when Jesus’ body laid in the tomb. His followers were in despair. They had lost hope. They thought it was all over and done with and their beloved leader was gone forever.

I have been to the funerals of loved ones and friends. Looking into a casket is perhaps the most solemn experience we face in this life. That and watching a loved one die. I was with my father when he died. He died while I was reading from the bible to him. When my father died, I did not despair. That was because over a year before he died, I was with him while he made peace with God by trusting in Jesus. I had so much peace about where my father went to that I taught my class that evening, but I had the benefit of knowing the rest of the story which is that Jesus conquered death through His resurrection.

There are other moments in life that might we feel all hope is lost. We look at our life obstacles and wonder if there is anyway that we can find that job, get out of debt, experience our loved ones finally getting their life turned around, recover from an illness or any other of life’s seemingly unending problems. We at times are like the followers of Jesus on that Saturday between the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is as if we are on the outside of the tomb lost in despair.

I often wonder how His followers felt that Saturday. What it must have been like for those who washed His body and prepared His body for burial. They had forgotten about how Jesus called Lazarus back from the dead only days before Jesus entered Jerusalem. They had forgotten how Jesus had told them that He would die and that He would be raised from dead. They had lost hope. We do the same thing. We lose hope even though we have the rest of the story. We know that Jesus defeated death. His resurrection proves that He has power even over our worst enemy. When we face life’s difficulties, it is too easy for us to lose hope and not keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

On this Saturday between Good Friday and Easter, I would like to encourage you to think about your problems and then remember that He has all power. His resurrection is the proof that we too will one day enjoy the benefits of heaven, and also that He does have all power. He is more than able to help us to overcome our difficulties.

Every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord

In the bible it says that one day every knee will bow and every tonuge will confess Jesus Christ is Lord. What a wonderful day that will be when Jesus fully reveals Himself as Lord of all. That means no more war, sickness, poverty, or any of the other troubles that plague us.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to experience a little glimpse of what that day will be like. We read from Psalm 100 in 7 languages in worship service. We had Chinese, English, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese read in the worship service. It was a beautiful peek into what that day will be like when Jesus fully reveals Himself to us and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

That moment also underscored for me that God truly does love the world. He loves all people. He wants all people form all languages to know Him as Father. That is why Jesus said “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not persih but have eternal life”. The question is do we want to confess Jesus now and experience His love asnd forgiveness now or wait until it it too late?