Burst Into Singing

If you're like me, then music touches your soul in a way that much else can't. I absolutely love music, and I thank God every day for placing me in a family with musical talents and abilities! And I'm so excited that my niece and nephews are already being exposed to our family sing-a-longs (see video). One of my all-time favorite things to do is to sit around with my family and sing at the top of our lungs, all finding our own harmony! In fact, a secret (well not-so-secret-now) dream of mine is to sing in a Gaither video!! If you were to ask me my favorite song or style of music, I would be as indecisive as my Christmas playlist on my iTunes! (Yes, as a matter fact, I do have Handel's Messiah and Charlie Brown Christmas among many others all shuffled together! And my cheerleaders introduced me to a fun version of "Drummer Boy", sung by Justin Bieber, of course.) :)
The songs of the season make me want to...
"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music...(Psalm 98:4);"
This Christmas season, when the "...old familiar carols play...," burst into singing to the Lord, "for He has done marvelous things (Psalm 98:1)."


Finish these lyrics..."What the World Needs Now is..."

Hate, pure hate!

If you're a Carpenters fan, you weren't expecting that, I know. The lyrics to their song have often bothered me, because of the lines that tell the Lord what we need and what we don't. But recently, they've bothered me in a different way. I've been overwhelmed by the immense love of God lately, and can't help but think that we're the ones responsible for the seeming lack of love, not God...His is immeasurable. However, while I agree that we do, in fact, need to love more, I am also convinced that we need more hate...hatred for sin!
I would guess that 99.9% of you would answer this question with a resounding yes, "Do you hate sin?" I would have joined that statistic, as well, before a great conversation with my dear friend, Cheryl Howe. We discussed how much we wish we hated sin!
Unfortunately, my life does not portray my hatred of sin. And I sincerely believe that if 99.9% of Christians did indeed hate their sin, this world would look different. In fact, maybe even the Carpenters wouldn't have needed to sing such a song about the lack of love in the world.
Romans 12 has a great list of righteous behaviors to those of us who long to live lives that are pleasing to the Lord. We're told to live sacrificially (vs. 1), renew our minds (vs. 2), live humbly (vs. 3), use our gifts generously (vs. 4-8), love sincerely (vs. 9), cling to good (vs. 9),  commit to love (vs. 10), honor others (vs. 10), serve passionately (vs. 11), hope joyfully (vs. 12), have patience in trials (vs. 12), pray faithfully (vs. 12), share with the needy (vs. 13),  offer hospitality (vs. 13), bless persecutors (vs. 14), rejoice with the joyful (vs. 15), mourn with the mourning (vs. 15), live harmoniously (vs. 16), interact with people humbly regardless of status (vs. 16), respond to evil without evil (vs. 17), live blamelessly (vs. 17), live peacefully (vs. 18), let God take revenge (vs. 19), give food and drink to the hungry and thirsty (vs. 20), repay evil with good (vs. 21).
Tucked in the middle of all of these is one that we often overlook, or maybe just misunderstand. Verse 9 tells us to "hate what is evil."
Again, most of us would honestly say that we hate evil - we hate theft, murder, rape and pornography. That is why we don't participate in them.
But do we hate immodesty? Do we hate laziness? Do we hate the irreverent use of God's name? Do we hate our lack of discipline with our money, time or eating? Sure. We dislike it. But do we hate it? Enough to turn the TV off when we see an inappropriate commercial exploiting women in too little clothing or hear God's name taken in vain? Enough to stop spending hours on Facebook when we haven't spent time in prayer or God's Word? Enough to sacrifice "me" time to invest in the lives of others? Enough to pray about a purchase rather than buying impulsively? Enough to go to bed at a decent hour so as not to be exhausted all the time? Enough to actually stop eating when we're so full it hurts?
I must confess, I don't hate my sin. I like it. I like it enough to make excuses for it. I like it enough to make jokes about it. I like it enough to still "struggle" after being convicted 10 years ago of the same junk! I like it too much to turn it off!
I could probably love so much more than I do, but I believe that the first thing I need more of is hate...hatred for my sin. In fact, I bet the solution to the deficiency of love is...hate.
The world needs to see God's love, but they must see with it God's hatred for sin. The world needs to know that they need God's love, because of their sin.  Because of our love for others, we must speak the truth about sin, and we must hate it!
So go out and HATE a little more this week!

~Rebecca Phillips


He's Just That Into Me!

I found myself watching a movie on TV called, "He's Just Not That Into You." While I DO NOT RECOMMEND the movie, I found it humorous that many girls (and guys for that matter) will invent any excuse to avoid the truth of rejection. We don't want to believe that the guy/girl of our infatuation doesn't return the attraction. In the movie, a girl ignores all of the obvious signs that the guy does not like her and continues to place herself in awkward positions that leave her confused and feeling rejected. There are so many directions we could go from here, but it has been a theme in my life over the last few weeks that there is ONE who is just that into me!
Zephaniah 3:17 says, 
"The LORD your God is with you,
   the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
   in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
   but will rejoice over you with singing.”
The word "gul" in Hebrew is usually translated "rejoice." It means to "spin around under the influence of a violent emotion."
I love the idea that my Savior is so overwhelmed with emotion over me that He is singing and dancing over me! In the midst of chaos and trouble He is not just my Savior, but my lover! He takes delight in me
Two thoughts whelm at this idea:
1. I have not shown Him that I'm that into Him!
2. I am in awe that He loves me anyway!
I love the words of the song written by Jared Anderson, performed here by Phillips, Craig & Dean.

The lyrics:
You dance over me,
While I am unaware.
You sing all around,
But I never hear the sound.
Lord, I'm amazed by you
Lord, I'm amazed by you
Lord, I'm amazed by you
How you love me.
You paint the morning sky
With miracles in mind
My hope will always stand
For you hold me in your hand
Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
How you love me.
Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
How you love me.
How wide, how deep, how great, is your love for me.
How wide, how deep, how great, is your love for me.

Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
Lord I'm amazed by you
How you love me.
Lord you love me.

He's Just that Into You, too!


Under God...With Liberty...

Independence Day observes the beginning of our nation no longer under the rule of another. Webster defines independence as “the state of not being subject to the control of others…self-governing…not requiring or relying on something else…not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct…” We like the sound of being independent! However, when America became free from Britain rule, America did not throw all government out the window. There were laws to be followed and order to be implemented. I’ve been thinking about this idea as it relates to our Christian liberty, and I’m not the first. Paul wrote in Romans 6:16, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” In John 8:34, Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” The idea here, is habitual sin, though we sometimes revert back to our old habits even when we’re free. Webster defines addiction: to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.”
Consider that besetting sin in your life, no matter how seemingly insignificant. Maybe it’s lack of financial discipline. Maybe it’s gossip. When I surrender to the sale racks for items I don’t need or to the temporary pleasure I experience at the cost of slandering a sister in Christ, I do not typically think about myself being addicted. In fact, the first things that come to mind when I think about addictions are drugs, alcohol and prostitution, as those are the issues common to the women I work with on Tuesday nights who have been incarcerated for these behaviors. I do not have addictions to these things, so I often let myself off the hook. In fact, most of us wouldn’t perceive our behaviors as addictions, I’d like to argue that we may need to think outside the box (or should I say bottle) a little bit. As Eve was deceived in the garden, I too, find myself believing that I’m missing out on great things, and I have erroneously indulged. I should see HUGE RED FLAGS flying when I start thinking this way, because Psalm 84:11 says, “…no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless...” But oftentimes I allow untruth to set me in bondage rather than listening to the “truth that will set me free” (John 8:32). I surrender to the temptation and many times become addicted. May our addiction to sin be liberated as we enslave ourselves to righteousness. May we live with liberty...under God.