Birthday blessings

Instead of counting candles,
or tallying the years,
contemplate your blessings now
as your birthday nears.

Consider special people
who love you, and who care;
and others who’ve enriched your life
just by being there.

Think about the memories
passing years can never mar;
experiences great and small
that have made you who you are.

Another year is a happy gift,
so cut your cake, and say,
“Instead of counting birthdays,
I count blessings every day!”

~ Written by:  Joanna Fuchs ~

Blessings

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace, (Psalm 67:1, Psalm 122:6)
comfort for family, protection while we sleep; (Matthew 5:4, Psalm 4:8)
We pray for healing, for prosperity, (Mark 5:23, Psalm 118:25)
we pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering… (Psalm 9:13, 2 Chronicles 6:32-33)

And all the while, You hear each spoken need…  (2 Chronicles 20:9, Exodus 3:7)
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things.  (Ephesians 3:19-20)

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through rain drops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?  (Psalm 56:8)
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?  (Hebrews 13:5)
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise? 

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear;  (James 1:5, Hebrews 3:15)
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near…  (Psalm 27:7)
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love  (Matthew 14:31, Matthew 28:17)
as if every promise from Your Word is not enough!  (Joshua 23:14, Hebrews 10:23)

And all the while, You hear each desperate plea  (Exodus 22:23, Psalm 40:1)
and long that we’d have faith to believe…  (Mark 5:36, 9:23, 11:24, John 11:26)

Chorus

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win, we know  (Luke 22:48, John 3:19)
that pain reminds this heart that this is not, this is not our home!  (Hebrews 11:13-16)
It’s not our home!

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through rain drops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life  (Proverbs 13:12)
is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?  (John 4:13-14)
What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights,
are your mercies in disguise?

~ Written and performed by:  Laura Story ~

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” saith the LORD, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Romans 8:28
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

Further reading:  Heavenly perspective

Welcome to wherever you are

Maybe we’re all different, but we’re still the same;
we all got the blood of Eden running through our veins.  (Romans 5:12)
I know sometimes it’s hard for you to see –
you’re caught between just who you are and who you want to be…  (Romans 7:15-25)

If you feel alone and lost and need a friend,  (John 15:15, Matthew 11:19)
remember:  every new beginning is some beginning’s end!

Welcome to wherever you are:
this is your life, you made it this far!  (Philippians 1:6, Psalm 138:8)
Welcome, you got to believe
that right here, right now,
you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be…  (Romans 8:28)
Welcome to wherever you are.

When everybody’s in and you’re left out,
and you feel you’re drowning in the shadow of a doubt.  (Matthew 14:28-32)
Everyone’s a miracle in their own way!  (Psalm 139:14-16)
Just listen to yourself, not what other people say.  (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22)

When it’s seems you’re lost, alone and feeling down,
remember everybody’s different, just take a look around!  (1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Romans 12)

Chorus

Be who you want to be, be who you are!
Everyone’s a hero, everyone’s a star…

When you want to give up and your heart’s about to break,
remember that you’re perfect, God makes no mistakes…  (Deuteronomy 32:4)

~ Written and performed by:  Bon Jovi ~

http://biblereasons.com/being-unique/

Lose my soul

Kirk Franklin:
(I wanna tell you all something, man…
I’m not gonna let these material things get in my way, y’all –
I’m trying to get somewhere…
I’m trying to get somewhere that’s real and pure and true and eternal.)

tobyMac:
Father God, I am clay in your hands(Jeremiah 18:6)
help me to stay that way through all life’s demands,
’cause they chip and they nag and they pull at me,
and every little thing I make up my mind to be:
Like I’m gonna be a daddy whose in the mix,
and I’m gonna be a husband who stays legit,
and I pray that I’m an artist who rises above,
the road that is wide and filled with self-love.
Everything that I see draws me,
though it’s only in You that I can truly see
that it’s a feast for the eyes, (but) a low blow to purpose,
and I’m a little kid at a three-ring circus…

I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don’t wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.
I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don’t wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.

(Mr. Franklin, Step up to the mic, sir…)

Kirk Franklin:
The paparazzi flashes, and that they think that it’s you,
but they don’t know that who you are is not what you do.
True, we get it twisted when we peak at the charts,
Yo’, before we part from the start, Where’s your heart?
You a pimp, hustler?  tell me what’s your title;
America has no more stars, now we call them idols.
You sit idle, while we teach prosperity,
The first thing to prosper should be inside of me.
We’re free…  Not because of 22’s on the range,
but Christ came in range, we said, “Yes”, now we’re changed – (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Not the same, even though I made a fall,
Since I got that call, no more Saul, now I’m Paul.  (Acts 9:1-20, Acts 13:9)

I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don’t wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.
I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don’t wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.
Don’t wanna walk away,
Don’t wanna walk away

Mandisa:
How do I sense the tide that’s rising?
De-sensitizing me from living in light of eternity
How do I sense the tide that’s rising?
It’s hypnotizing me from living in light of eternity…
How do I sense the tide that’s rising?
De-sensitizing me from living in light of eternity…

(Lord, what we gonna do;  we’re relying on You,
all eyes are on You, Lord,
all eyes are on You, all eyes are on You, Jesus.)

I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
Don’t wanna walk away, let me hear the people say.
(Don’t let me lose my soul, my soul.)
I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
(This is my honesty, Father, won’t you cover me.)
I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
(Don’t wanna walk away, and all those people say)
I don’t want to gain the whole world, and lose my soul,
(Don’t wanna lose, I don’t wanna lose my soul.)

tobyMac:
Lord, forgive us when we get consumed by the things of this world,
That fight for our love, and our passion,
As our eyes are open wide and on you.
Grant us the privilege of your world view,
And may your kingdom be what wakes us up, and lays us down.

~ Written by:  Toby McKeehan
Performed by:  tobyMac featuring Kirk Franklin & Mandisa
Album:  Portable Sound ~

Scripture:

Mark 8:34-38 (see also Matthew 16:24-27 and Luke 9:23-25)

And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also, He said unto them, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.  For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

James 4:4
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Romans 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

1 John 2:15
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

James 1:27
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Matthew 6:19-21, 24
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  …  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Luke 11:23
“He that is not with Me is against Me: and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.”

1 John 4:4
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.

The Faithful One

I find no hope within to call my own
For I am frail of heart, my strength is gone
But deep within my soul is rising up a song
Here in the comfort of the Faithful One

I walk a narrow road through valleys deep
In search of higher ground, on mountains steep
And though with feet unsure, I still keep pressing on
For I am guided by the Faithful One.

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious Friend,
You have been faithful,
Faithful, so faithful to me

I see Your wounded hands, I touch Your side
With thorns upon Your brow You bled and died
But there’s an empty tomb, a love for all who come
And give their hearts to you, the Faithful One

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious Friend,
You have been faithful,
Faithful, so faithful to me

And when the day is dawned and when the race is run
I will bow down before God’s only Son
And I will lift my hands in praise for all You’ve done
And I will worship You, my Faithful One

~ Performed by: Selah
Written by:  B.G. White & C.N. Eaton ~

Blue Skies

Yesterday’s forecast called for rain and I
found all my so-called friends to be fair weather kind.
Looking for shelter, I was standing out in my pain;
That’s when You came and You changed everything

‘Cause April-showers bring May-flowers, like
only You turn my darkest hour into

Blue skies, blue skies
Not a cloud over-head in my life
When it’s gray out, I don’t mind –
I’ve got blue skies on the inside

Tossed about upon the stormy sea I swayed
Scared to death, not at the wind, but what I heard You say:
It’s not every time Your hand the wind will stay
Sometimes You’re calling me to walk out on the waves…

My perception should be a reflection,
not of what my eyes see, but what Jesus tells me

Chorus

I’m not saying I won’t ever have a problem
Sometimes life’s gonna rain on my parade,
but if I know that You’re right here with me then
why should I worry? Why should I be afraid?

Outside when the rain is pouring all around,
I don’t have to let it get me down

~ Lyrics By: Mike Weaver, Jay Weaver, Andy Cloninger
Performed by:  Big Daddy Weave ~

~ Scripture reference:

Luke 8:22-25 
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that He went into a ship with His disciples: and He said unto them, “Let us go over unto the other side of the lake.”  And they launched forth.  But as they sailed He fell asleep:  and there came down a storm of wind on the lake;  and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy.  And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we perish.”  Then He arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water:  and they ceased, and there was a calm.  And He said unto them, “Where is your faith?”  And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, “What manner of man is this! for He commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey Him.”

Matthew 14:22-33
And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a ship, and to go before Him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.  And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray:  and when the evening was come, He was there alone.  But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves:  for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a spirit”;  and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”  And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.”  And He said, “Come.”  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid;  and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me.”   And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.  Then they that were in the ship came and worshiped Him, saying, “Of a truth Thou art the Son of God.”

I refuse

I refuse to be discouraged, to be sad, or to cry;
I refuse to be downhearted, and here’s the reason why:

I have a God Who’s mighty, Who’s sovereign and supreme;
I have a God who loves me, and I am on His team.

He is all-wise and powerful, Jesus is His Name;
Though everything is changeable, my God remains the same.

My God knows all that’s happening, beginning to the end,
His presence is my comfort;  He is my dearest friend.

When sickness comes to weaken me, to bring my head down low,
I call upon my mighty God – into His arms I go.

When circumstances threaten to rob me from my peace;
He draws me close unto His breast, where all my strivings cease.

And when my heart melts within me, and weakness takes control;
He gathers me into His arms, He soothes my heart and soul.

The great “I AM” is with me, my life is in His hand,
The “Son of the Lord” is my hope, it’s in His strength I stand.

I refuse to be defeated, my eyes are on my God;
He has promised to be with me, as through this life I trod.

I’m looking past all my circumstances to Heaven’s throne above;
My prayers have reached the heart of God, I’m resting in His love.

I give God thanks in everything, my eyes are on His face;
The battle’s His, the victory is mine – He’ll help me win the race!

~ Lita Kurtzer ~

“Until death do us part…”

When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, “I’ve got something to tell you.”  She sat down and ate quietly.  Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.  Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, “Why?”

I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, “You are not a man!”  That night, we didn’t talk to each other.  She was weeping.  I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage.  But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer;  I had lost my heart to Jane.  I didn’t love her anymore.  I just pitied her!

With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company.  She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces.  The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger.  I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said, for I loved Jane so dearly.  Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see.  To me her cry was actually a kind of release.  The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.

The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table.  I didn’t have supper, but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane.  When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing.  I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions:  she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce.  She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible.  Her reasons were simple:  our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

This was agreeable to me.  But she had something more:  she asked me to recall how I had carried her into our bridal room on our wedding day.  She requested that every day for the month’s duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door every morning.  I thought she was going crazy.  Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.

I told Jane about my wife’s divorce conditions.  She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd.  “No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce,” she said scornfully.

My wife and I hadn’t had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed.  So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy.  Our son clapped behind us:  “Daddy is holding Mommy in his arms!”  His words brought me a sense of pain.  From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms.  She closed her eyes and said softly, “Don’t tell our son about the divorce.”  I nodded, feeling somewhat upset.  I put her down outside the door.  She went to wait for the bus to work.  I drove alone to the office.

On the second day, both of us acted much more easily.  She leaned on my chest.  I could smell the fragrance of her blouse.  I realized that I hadn’t looked at this woman carefully for a long time.  I realized she was not young any more.  There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying!  Our marriage had taken its toll on her.  For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.

On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning.  This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.  On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again.  I didn’t tell Jane about this.  It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by.  Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.

She was choosing what to wear one morning.  She tried on quite a few dresses, but could not find a suitable one.  Then she sighed, “All my dresses have grown bigger.”  I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.

Suddenly it hit me…  She had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart.  Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.

Our son came in at the moment and said, “Dad, it’s time to carry Mom out.”  To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life.  My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly.  I turned my face away, because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute.  I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway.  Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally.  I held her body tightly;  it was just like our wedding day.

But her much lighter weight made me sad.  On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step.  Our son had gone to school.  I held her tightly and said, “I hadn’t noticed that our life lacked intimacy.”  I drove to office… jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door.  I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind…  I walked upstairs.  Jane opened the door and I said to her, “Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.”

She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. “Do you have a fever?” she said.  I moved her hand off my head.  “Sorry, Jane,” I said, “I won’t divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn’t value the details of our lives, not because we didn’t love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.”  Jane seemed to suddenly wake up.  She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears.  I walked downstairs and drove away. At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife.  The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card.  I smiled and wrote, I’ll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.

That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I ran upstairs, only to find my wife in the bed – dead.  My wife had been fighting Cancer for months, and I was too busy with Jane to even notice.  She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we push through with the divorce.  At least, in the eyes of our son, I’m a loving husband…

The small details of our lives are what really matter in a relationship.  It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank.  These create an environment conducive for happiness, but cannot give happiness in themselves.  Find time to be your spouse’s friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy.

Mark 10

2  And the Pharisees came to Him, and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?” tempting Him. 3  And He answered and said unto them, “What did Moses command you?” 4  And they said, “Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.” 5  And Jesus answered and said unto them, “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6  But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8  And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” 10  And in the house His disciples asked Him again of the same matter. 11  And He saith unto them, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12  And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”