February/March 2021 Media Picks

Of course, I have to plug my upcoming Proverbs book. It’s my excuse for not blogging lately. 🙂 It’s not necessarily the reason BUT it sounds better than my bed is so warm and my office is so cold. Or that it’s easier to edit my husband’s books than to write my own sometimes! But we are going on a vacation/writing retreat for a few days and I hope to finally finish my Pruning with Proverbs book while he starts his next Bible study. (He currently has The Book of James out while I’m editing his Book of 1st John. I’m also waiting on the illustrations to be completed for the sequel to Gumbo the Bayou Dog so we are enjoying our writing side careers very much!)

In the meantime, we are available for ministry 24/7. At first Covid slowed down some outreach but lately we have 8-9 people (some strangers; some we know) stopping by regularly for help, counseling, or prayer. We’ve done middle of the week weddings and last-minute funerals. We consider it all a blessing and I LOVE that we live and work next door to the church so that our home becomes an extension of it.

My song for this month comes from a couple of funerals we’ve done. It was released in 2015 but I heard it for the first time last year when we did a funeral for the daughter of church members. The family of another church member also selected that song for a funeral we did last week. It’s similar to I Can Only Imagine but told from the perspective of those left behind. It is a sweet song but definitely sob-inducing if you are grieving. Listen to Dancing in the Sky here or visit the Media Page:

The movie I chose is an upcoming Netflix release. It’s their first faith-based film and I’m excited to watch it while also being nervous about recommending a film I haven’t yet seen! Proceed with caution! Here’s the info listed for A Week Away:

Based on an original idea by Alan Powell and directed by Roman White, the pic centers around Will Hawkins (Kevin Quinn), a troubled teen who has a run-in with the law that puts him at an important crossroad: go to juvenile detention or attend a Christian summer camp. At first a fish-out-of-water, Will opens his heart, discovers love with a camp regular (Bailee Madison), and a sense of belonging in the last place he expected to find it.

Additional cast includes Jahbril Cook, Kat Conner Sterling, and Iain Tucker. The film, which was shot in Nashville, will feature reimagined songs from some of the biggest hits in Contemporary Christian Music history as well as original music from the film’s music producer, Adam Watts. Paul Becker and Melena Rounis choreographed the dance numbers.

Music! Choreography! Romance! Redemption! This really does sound like my kind of movie!!

August…….a time to be set free

Here I surrender lay down every weight 
Remember Your love has broken all my chains 
What You have finished, cannot be undone 
The work of the cross was more than enough

I’ve been set free
I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

There is a promise written in Your scars 
I am forgiven, changed by who You are 
What you have finished, I will not forget
I’m buried with Christ
I’m raised from the dead

I’ve been set free
I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing grace Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind (now) I see 
This is amazing grace 
Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing grace 
Jesus alive in me

(Oh) I’ve been set free
(Oh) I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power (no power) over me 
Found in Your mercy
(Oh) I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

(Yes) You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

(Set Free….Hope Darst)

I shared a story this past Sunday of this very thing. It was the moment I truly knew I’d given everything to God. It wasn’t when I made a profession of faith at nine. It wasn’t when I threw myself on the altar at church camp at 14, a year after I turned my back on God in favor of a lifestyle that I erroneously thought was protecting me from pain. It wasn’t when I told him how sorry I was and how I wanted to turn my life around years later.

Those were three very real experiences and I meant every word of what I’d said each time.

But there was one time when I took it a step farther. One time when I knew I’d given Him EVERYTHING. The time I learned what it was like to be set free.

I’ve shared this story before, but the song above (featured in this month’s Media Picks) reminded me of that moment.

I was on my knees, figuratively, once again. Everything was a mess and I wanted to turn it around. It was a familiar prayer and I meant every word. But this time, He knew it was different. It was the lowest bottom I’d ever reached and I was all out of fight.

The calendar….He whispered.

Oh yes, the calendar…

It was several years old at that point and it held the phone numbers of every contact I’d ever need if things went south. Just now, as I’m writing this, I’m struck with the realization of what “going south” means. Going to hell. Which is what that calendar contained….a billion roads to send me to hell.

However, until then, I’d always looked at it as an insurance policy.

If things messed up, if I needed help, if I just needed a little something to help me through…it would be there. I would TRY not to use it but I’d keep it in a safe place as a back-up plan.

I hadn’t even thought about the calendar when He brought it up. But there I was, at the very intersection I call faith and free will. He was going to allow me to worship Him and He would bless me and I would revel in His grace and mercy no matter what I did. But I was tired of being tied to my past. It was the very thing that had kept me in bondage for years.

I don’t think I hesitated for a second. I made a fire, grabbed that calendar and threw it in. The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I felt 10,000 lbs lighter. My heart rejoiced. I felt as if angels had lifted me off the ground and I heard the chorus of At the Cross.

…and the burden of my heart rolled away…

I knew that was the lightness I felt. The burden I had unknowingly been carrying around all those years by holding on to something “just in case” I needed it later.

If there is something you are holding onto, something that separates you from God, and you have it on the shelf instead of in the fire, BURN IT TODAY!

Whether it’s a relationship, an addiction, a ball of anger….it will never do for you what God can. And your relationship with God will never be what it could be until you let it go.

Don’t just be free for a little while.

Be free indeed.

It’s 2020. Does anyone really care about Jesus anymore?

The Lighthouse by the Crabb Family is one of my favorite songs. I’d listened to my husband sing it for twenty years but last week it took on a whole new meaning.

         Everybody all around us….they say tear that old lighthouse down

         The ships don’t come this way anymore. There’s no use in it hanging ‘round…

My heart began to weep inside.

That’s where we are in this country. The nation formed UNDER GOD. They say they Bible is archaic; Jesus was a mere man, if not a myth. No one believes like that anymore and if you do, you’re wrong.

Christians are a hate group. Christians are ignorant. Christians are intolerant. The claims against Christianity abound.

Many Christians back up. Humans have an inherent need to be accepted. They aren’t tearing the Lighthouse down, but they are standing by silently as it is dismantled.

Do you not remember?

       But my mind goes back to that stormy night…where just in time I saw the Light

Does the praise of men mean more to you than that day of salvation?

This is my featured song for July in my Media picks. If you haven’t heard it before, listen to it. Jesus was YOUR Lighthouse. Jesus is THE Lighthouse. And yet, our world thinks the flashlight it created works better.

I’ve shamelessly plugged one of my new books as well. Surfing, Dancing Seeds of Glory is a metaphor for life. Seeds are all born different and lead different lives but in the end they all have the same opportunity: to surf down the river of life and dance on streets on gold! The book was designed to open communication about salvation and the promise of Heaven. It is a children’s book that was designed to also use with elderly and mentally-compromised patients who need to hear the good news of Jesus.

I also am featuring a study by one of my favorite Christian authors, Elizabeth George. This is a study of Esther and I’m particularly interested in Esther because of where we are right now in this country.

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I know what Esther’s role was. Now, do I know mine? Actually, I believe I do, and I strive to meet God’s expectations for my life every day. What about you? He has raised you up for such a time as this. Are you doing what YOU are supposed to be doing?

For the movie, I realized I never featured the very first advance screening for pastors I attended. Do you Believe? came out in 2015, after the nation hungered for God’s Not Dead. I found it to be complex and heartwarming, and it set a high standard for screenings to come. If you haven’t seen it, download it today.

I hope you enjoy July’s featured media! If you decide to order a Surfing, Dancing Seeds book, let me know and I’ll send you a free bookmark that goes with the book. It contains a poem called “Take Up That Cross” on one side and salvation verses on the other. Images and ordering available on the author page.