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For some time, I have been thinking about faith and belief. We've all heard the verse that even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). Then about 2 months ago, I heard a song on the radio which seemed to speak directly to my heart. (And I've played it every day since then!)

This scripture came to mind when I first heard it:

"For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you." Mark 11:24 (Amplified Bible)

Believe with confident trust - is that how I'm living out my faith? Believing God or merely believing in God? This has challenged me lately to pray more boldly - believing that God will do what He says He will do. But we do have to be careful that we are also praying for things that align with His will, not ours.

As a dear brother in Christ, Joel Steigerwalt, proclaimed in a recent message on Psalm 23 [after I had determined the title of this blog]. "The real test is - do we believe God, do we believe Christ's promises, as our Great Shepherd, to lead us thru this time, amidst our fears of anxiety, depression, and the darkness of the soul?"

The song which started this train of thought, CeCe Winan's "Believe For It" (acoustic version is below) gives witness to the power of God's name and our faith in believing. I watched a mini-documentary about the recording of her live album of the same name (this video is a different version). One of the background vocalists made this statement: "There's a part of our faith that just goes beyond science or reason or understanding. That He is the God who makes miracles and He is the one who moves mountains. And with Him, in His time, all things are possible. So I'm just gonna believe!"

What I am choosing to do is to boldly believe "God For It." What about you?

I trust that this song will bless you as much as it has blessed me!

[To view the performance version of this song (of the whole recorded live television concert), click here. Ce Ce's testimony about this song begins at 14:00 min. She "prays that everyone who hears it will release their faith for the impossible..."]


Blog Cover Photo by Dean Cui on Unsplash

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Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:54, John 19:31-42, 20:1-18

Holy Week has been different for me this year. It started last week, with Palm Sunday. At our church service, during the Kid's Connection message, the speaker reminded us of the timeline of the events of Jesus’ last days on earth in his human body. During Sharing & Prayer time, another person talked about being in Rome for the observance of Palm Sunday. Then having actual palm branches to wave at the end of the service, I could see myself at that first Palm Sunday. I could see Jesus entering Jerusalem, I could hear his followers singing “Hallelujah!” I could feel the joy and hope of the coming of the promised Messiah, the King!

Later this week, at our Maundy Thursday service which was a Tenebrae observance, I felt the anguish and sorrow as Jesus stood trial before Pilate, being accused of things that were untrue. If I had been there, would I have screamed out in his defense, “He didn’t do anything wrong!” Or would I have turned on him and with the crowd, shouted, "Crucify him?"

Then one by one the candles were snuffed out to represent the life and light of the world, Jesus, dying on the cross. Would I have stayed to watch as the women did? Or would I too leave and abandon him as most of the disciples had? What would I have felt as I heard Jesus call out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

But on the day of His resurrection, what would it have felt like to have my emotions jolted back to joy and HOPE? Like Mary? Remember, she had witnessed both Jesus' crucifixion and his burial in the garden tomb, and then saw the Risen Saviour!

How we view the resurrection is a matter of perspective. All the early Christ-followers had built their hope upon was dashed to the ground on Good Friday. But as one writer put it, we have the benefit of hindsight. Two thousand plus years later, we know what was coming and for us, Easter is the day that changed everything. We have the advantage of having the written Scriptures, of being able to see the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Gospel, the Good News, that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb who paid the debt of sin, and restored and is restoring our relationship with God, our Father, the creator of heaven and earth. This is the gift of Salvation – this is the message of the hope of the resurrection!

I ask you this, “What are we doing with doing this message of hope?”

While I was writing this message, I read the following story about a comedian, who was described as “quick to offend.” In a video he posted, he tells of a businessman from a previous night’s audience, who showed up a second time to give him a personally inscribed Bible. Visibly moved and assuming the businessman knew he was an atheist, he described how this really good guy looked him in the eye when he spoke, and how he cared enough to risk ridicule or rejection. From there, he went on to express his lack of respect for Christians who don’t proselytize – which means to share their faith (and make disciples). He said, “If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”

That really got to me. If I, if we, have joy and hope in Easter, the resurrection, shouldn’t we continually be sharing this good news? Jesus told Mary to tell his disciples that he was risen; Jesus told his disciples and us, in Matthew 28, to go and make disciples of all the nations. And in Acts 1:8, Jesus again says, “and you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.”

I don’t know about you, but after my newfound experiences during this Holy Week, I want to become more bold about sharing the hope of the resurrection.''

"You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!"

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

(adapted from Lori Lower's SonRise Service Sermon,

Ashland Brethren in Christ Church, 4/7/21)

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I love spring! I love how the flowers start to peek out of the ground. On my walking route last spring, I noticed a residence that had flowers planted in the shape of a heart. (I trust you can see that in the photo I took above.) Spring seems to bring hope, along with sunlight and fresh air, to counteract the bleakness of the past winter.

I think most everyone will agree - this past year has been different, difficult, and perhaps downright depressing! So when this question was posed to me, "How's your heart?" it was very hard to answer honestly. My heart feels battered and perhaps betrayed by all that has transpired through the Coronavirus pandemic and upheavals associated with it, and by the unrest across the United States - whether political, racial, social, etc. Although I have not experienced the loss of a family member or close friend to Covid-19 and the accompanying complications, there are people that I personally knew who have succumbed to the disease, and my heart breaks for their families.

The writer of Psalm 73, Asaph, acknowledges that the human heart is frail, and that strength comes from God.

"My flesh (health) and my heart (spirit) may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart

and my portion forever." [Psalm 73:26]

So when our hearts feel battered, betrayed, and broken, and our circumstances are different, difficult, and depressing, we need to give ourselves a "heart-check." A friend and I are starting to go through a devotional study that focuses on renewal, Heart Check, by Christine Caine. The title of the lesson for Day 1 is "Give Your Outlook an Upgrade."

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving

for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what

is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is

unseen is eternal." [2 Cor. 4:17-18]

Sometimes we need to let go of things - expectations of ourselves and others - and allow Jesus to fill our hearts with hope - with the expectation of living with the reality that this world is not our home. For those who desire a heart check, we need to look up and fix our eyes on God.

Pastor Vicki sent me two prayers earlier this week, asking if they could be used in a blog post; one for looking back on 2020 and the other for looking ahead to 2021. At first, I didn't think now was the time to use them as New Year's celebrations are long past. I then realized that this is a good time - today is 3/20/21. Today is the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and for most of us in America, the pandemic restrictions (which started a year ago in March 2020) are looking to be lessened and lifted, so in some aspects, this IS the perfect time to usher in a new year/season! Look for the reminders for a heart check within these prayers.

A PRAYER, FOR LOOKING BACK ON 2020 God of Life, There are days when the burdens we carry Are heavy on our shoulders and weigh us down When the road seems dreary and endless, The skies gray and threatening, When our lives have no music in them, And our hearts are lonely, And our souls have lost their courage. Flood the path with light, Turn our eyes to where the skies are full of promise; Tune our hearts to brave music; Give us the sense of comradeship With heroes and saints of every age; And so quicken our spirits That we may be able to encourage The souls of all who journey with us on the road of life, To your honor and glory. Amen. -attributed to Augustine of Hippo (354-430) A PRAYER, FOR LOOKING AHEAD IN 2021 Wind of God, blow far from us All dark despair, All deep distress, All groundless fears, All sinful desires, All Satan’s snares, All false values, All selfish wishes, All wasteful worries. Blow into us Your holy presence, Your living love, Your healing touch, Your splendid courage, Your mighty strength, Your perfect peace, Your caring concern, Your divine grace, Your boundless joy. Wind of God, Blow strong, Blow fresh, Blow now. Amen. - Pamela Wilding, Kenya (from Prayers Encircling the World)

Both of the above prayers are from a collection of prayers compiled

by Meghan Feldmeyer Benson, Chaplain of Duke Divinity School

When I was re-reading Psalm 73, as mentioned above, the words to the Chris Tomlin song, I Will Rise, came to mind. It is a song filled with hope and a resolve to keep looking up!

There's a peace I've come to know Though my heart and flesh may fail There's an anchor for my soul I can say "It is well"


There's a day that's drawing near When this darkness breaks to light And the shadows disappear And my faith shall be my eyes

Here's the video with lyrics:


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