New Song: Goodness of God

It’s easy to say, “God is good,” when your life is easy.  But when you are facing serious disease, loss or death, it becomes a lot harder.  So many people end up in the desert of pain and suffering and cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

When we lose a job or face a life crisis, we cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

When you or a loved one is diagnosed with a serious disease, we cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

When a loved one dies, we cry out…”God, are you really good?!?”

The answer is “yes”.  God is good.  Let me give you three reasons…

  1.  God is good…in his being.  He is not evil.  He IS the definition of goodness.
  2.  He shows us his goodness in the way he gives and sustains life.  He shows us his goodness in the good gifts he gives.  He shows us his goodness in the way he showers us with mercy that we don’t deserve.  He would still be good if he didn’t do these things, but he chooses to show us his goodness.
  3.  Not only that, in the midst of pain, God comes close.  Charles Spurgeon once wrote that God is good because in the storm of pain and suffering, he comes closer to us than the storm could ever be.

Because of that, we can sing these words.  We might have tears running down our face, but we can still sing these words.  The first verse comes straight from the psalms and looks back at our lives so far…

Verse 1
I love You, Lord
For Your mercy never failed me 
(I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. -Psalm 116:1)
All my days, I’ve been held in Your hands
(Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God. -Psalm 31:5)
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
(I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. -Psalm 3:5)
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
(I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. -Psalm 13:6)
The chorus, also from the psalms, expands the theme musically and names God as the FAITHFUL one…
Chorus
And all my life You have been faithful
(Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. -Psalm 36:5)
And all my life You have been so, so good
(For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. -Psalm 100:5)
With every breath that I am able
(Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.-Psalm 150:6)
Oh, I will sing of the goodness of God
(I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me. -Psalm 13:6)
God is not silent.  He has spoken through his Word and now uses the Holy Spirit to illuminate his Word to apply it to our lives in dark times…
Verse 2
I love Your voice
(The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.-Psalm 29:4)
You have led me through the fire
(When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. -Isaiah 43:2)
And in darkest night You are close like no other
(Your hand will guide meeven the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. -Psalm 139:10, 12)
I’ve known You as a Father
(Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…-Matthew 6:9)
I’ve known You as a Friend
(You are my friends if you do what I command…I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. -John 15:14, 15)
And I have lived in the goodness of God.
So is God’s goodness pursuing us, like the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son?  Or, is God’s goodness following us like it says in the 23rd Psalm?  I think the answer is yes.  It’s both.  God’s mercy is pursuing us and His goodness continues to follow us when we know Him.  What this bridge shows me is that this goodness, this mercy demands a response.  Am I willing to lay down my life for my christian brothers and sisters?  Am I willing to give up everything for Jesus?  Am I willing to do that because of his great goodness to me?
Bridge
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
(…While [the Prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. -Luke 15:20)
Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me
(Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23:6)
With my life laid down, I’m surrendered now
(This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. -1 John 3:16
Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.-James 4:7)
I give You everything
(Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.-Luke 17:27, 33)
‘Cause Your goodness is running after, it’s running after me.

Like I said before, it’s easy to sing about God’s goodness in general terms, but after living through some hard stuff, I can say, “yes” I want to lay down my life and sing about the goodness of God that is running after, running after me…

A Living Hope for 2020

I ended up watching Netflix late last night.

Again.

I wasn’t going to do it.  But then Netflix showed me a new show, an action thriller with spiritual themes…so I watched the whole, first episode.

I’m hopeless.

And while my back is feeling better after straining it, the new Soni-care tooth brush that Sara got for my birthday gave me a headache.  I was excited about it because it’s supposed to be good for gum-care. I need better gum-care, at least that is what my dentist says.  But, it gave me a head-ache so I guess it’s a choice between receding gums and a headache?

I’m hopeless.

I also spent most of yesterday installing a new DIY alarm system from RING.  I love doing this kind of thing and Sara has been wanting a better security system w/ cameras for awhile now.  The camera doorbell works amazingly well and the whole system syncs with the Alexa.  In fact, I just asked Alexa if the back door was closed and she responded, “Back-door is closed”.  Ironically, I still have two magnetic sensors that won’t work.  It’s the simplest part of the whole system and I can’t get them to work!

I’m hopeless.

However, the biggest part of the New Year so far was the four word text from my Mom.  It read, “Aunt Dottie went home” . By “home”, my mom meant heaven because my Aunt Dottie has been fighting ovarian cancer for 6 years and fell asleep in the Lord on the first day of the year.

My Aunt Dottie and Uncle Ray were the family we always stayed with when we went out to Philly to visit the Scott side of the family.  Aunt Dottie was short, even by Scott family standards, but she was always ready to laugh, hug or encourage.  She regularly wrote my wife, Sara, encouraging her to keep writing.  A little over a year ago, Aunt Dottie messaged me about a new song we were singing at Emmanuel called “Living Hope”.  She loved the lyrics that come from 1 Peter 1:3-4.

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”

This year, we are going to focus on the theme of hope.  We are going to learn that “Hope is the confident expectation of what God has promised…” As Peter writes, we have a living hope in Jesus, who rose from the dead.  That is our confident expectation.  That was my Aunt Dottie’s hope in life and in death.

Later, I cried while listening to Coldplay’s new song, “When I Need a Friend”.  I cried for me and for my Mom who just lost her sister.  But they weren’t hopeless tears, they were hopeful tears.

Maybe I’m not so hopeless after all.

New Song: Great Things

Throughout scripture, there is a pattern.  God works to save his people and then the people praise him for the great things He has done.  It happens over and over again…Moses and the Red Sea…Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace…the psalms…and then even Mary sings after the angel tells her that she is going to be the mother of God.

For us today, it’s good to remember that God is still doing amazing work in our lives.  He is still destroying death, sin and shame.  God has done great things in my life…in your life!  This song by Phil Wickham starts in the psalms with us kneeling in wonder and inviting others to see what God has done…

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker –Psalm  95:6

Verse 1
Come let us worship our King
Come let us bow at His feet
He has done great things
See what our Savior has done
See how His love overcomes
He has done great things
He has done great things

And that is the theme of the song that we keep coming back to again and again.  He has done great things!  As Psalm 126 says,

Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 

Chorus
O Hero of Heaven You conquered the grave
You free every captive and break every chain
O God You have done great things

We use a lot of different words for God.  He is our redeemer.  He is our savior.  He is also our HERO!  If you read the VOICE version, it helps us see this in context…

Our Savior, our hero—the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, by name—is the Holy One of Israel!…I am your hero, the strong One of Jacob from whom you come. I will rescue you, whatever the price. –Isaiah 47:4; 49:26 Voice

And what has he rescued us from?

…he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. -Colossians 1:13-14

How should we respond?  I don’t know about you, but I think singing and dancing is a good way!

We dance in Your freedom awake and alive
O Jesus our Savior Your name lifted high
O God You have done great things

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.-Galatians 5:1

Let them praise his name with dancing
    and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory. –Psalm 149:3-4

For us today, God is faithful in big ways and small ways.  He comforts in suffering and protects us from evil.

Verse 2
You’ve been faithful through every storm
You’ll be faithful forevermore
You have done great things

the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. -2 Thessalonians 3:3

And I know You will do it again
For Your promise is yes and amen
You will do great things
God You do great things

Not only is he faithful in the past, he will continue to do great things for the promises of God are “yes” and amen!  As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians,

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.  And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

The bridge culminates in praise by declaring who God is.  Through out history and throughout our lives, he is God.  There are so many ways to say that.  For example, He is higher, above, unshakable.  But it all comes down to this:  he is the God who does great things.

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. –Isaiah 55:9

Bridge
Hallelujah God above it all
Hallelujah God unshakable
Hallelujah You have done great things
You’ve done great things

The Unofficial Israel Tour – The Pool of Siloam

In John 9:1–11, we read the story of the blind man who comes to Jesus to be healed. Two interesting things about the story jump out to me. First, Jesus uses mud to heal and secondly, he sends him to the pool. Why are those two things interesting? Let’s find out…on location in Jerusalem.

The Unofficial Israel Tour – The Western Wall

The Western Wall is famous all over the world. We have all seen the pictures of people praying and inserting written prayers into the wall. However, there is story in the gospels about Jesus’ temptation that also took place at the “highest point of the temple”. Let’s visit the Western Wall.

The Unofficial Israel Tour::The House of Caiphas

Jesus most likely spent his last night in this hole under the house of Caiphas, the high priest. Reading Psalm 88, it’s hard not to see it as a prophecy about Jesus’ experience. That night, as the psalm says, darkness was his only friend.

I sensed this was the week that above all weeks was to be set aside for the journey into death. I knew the worship of the church would take me by the hand and lead me step-by-step into the experience of death and rebirth, if I would allow it to do so. I resolved then and there to walk in the way of the cross. I purposed to make this the week God intended it to be for me, a week of intense spiritual struggle—and reward!

-Robert Webber, Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year

A Prayer Experience from Psalm 6

The Lord is merciful.

He is full of unfailing love.

The Lord hears our cries and hears our prayers.

He takes away our sins.

This is a prayer experience for Lent based on Psalm 6.

A Prayer Experience from Psalm 142

I wrote an arrangement of Psalm 142 for my one man musical, DAVID.  The line, “When my spirit grows faint within me / It is you who knows my way” grabbed me. As we continue this season of Lent, I thought this was a good psalm to share.  I recorded it in the desert room of the Botanical Gardens because David wrote it while hiding in a desert cave on the run from Saul.