HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY THAT I LOVE YOU?

imageAfter reading last week’s post, a friend kindly sent me a link to another post entitled Worshiping in Spirit by Lonnie Crowe, about songs that the Spirit has brought to mind.

The article encouraged me as it echoed what I’d been writing about that week but specifically because we had also experienced a song title in common, “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

Referring to a song written by Scotty Wiseman, Lonnie writes “One day, as I was driving alone across the countryside, I suddenly sang out, “Have I told You lately that I love You? Well, Jesus, I’m telling You now.” While my mind was concentrating on driving the car, my spirit was worshiping and responding to the indwelling Holy Spirit.”

Coincidentally around the time Crowe was writing this post, the Lord whispered those same words in my ear one morning as I woke up. But it was the Van Morrison version. I’m not a huge fan of Van the Man (maybe the Lord is??) so I didn’t know all the words but discovered they go on to say,

Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there’s no one else above you?
Fill my heart with gladness, take away all my sadness
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

For the morning sun in all it’s glory
Meets the day with hope and comfort too
You fill my life with laughter, somehow you make it better
Ease my troubles, that’s what you do

The Lord was not only singing His words of love over me, but also putting them on my lips so I could sing the same words of love and thankfulness in response.

Crowe writes, I came to know that God is not a mere spectator in our worship. He is a participant, and, more than that, He is the orchestrator. Music is His gift, and He is redeeming that gift. Our commitment to Him must be an intimate dance where He leads and we follow.

When we worship in the spirit, our expression becomes part of the fulfilment of Zephaniah 3:17 “ The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (NKJV, emphasis added). We get to join Him in His song.

The Lord has taught me that worship can and should be a conversation between us and Him. When we recognise His delight over us, we can’t help but respond, and the same is true in reverse. And when we come to understand this in a scope that takes us far beyond our church services, it brings a new richness and awareness of His presence with us all the time.

King David rejoiced that God had put a new song, a song of praise, in his mouth (Psalm 40:3). Likewise, we are told in other psalms that we are to sing a new song unto the Lord. To worship in the spirit, we must allow the Lord to give us that new song.

We may be like Handel and receive magnificent oratorios. We may be worship leaders with a spiritual gift for composing praise songs. We may be hymnists and compose with four verses and a refrain. We may be blessed with spontaneous prophetic worship, or we may be surprised to receive redeemed renditions of the songs of our youth. In whatever form it comes, worship received from the Spirit is worship indeed.

Interestingly the morning before I received the article, I had been walking in the forest with my waggy tail, Tess, feeling grateful for blue sky and bluebells, for sightings of squirrels and nesting swans, for peaceful streams and beautiful birdsong, when I again heard the whisper “Have I told you lately that I love you?“.

I felt that what I was seeing was His way of showing me how much He loves me and in response my gratitude was my version of singing “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

Have you told Him lately that you love Him? 

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. – John 4:23-24 (NKJV)

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The truth of these words brought me through some very dark days

imageI’m sure I’m not the only one loving the good weather 🙂 Life feels so much better under a bright blue sky.

But what about those days covered in clouds when you’re up against far more than you can handle on your own?

David’s psalms are full of days like this. “My tears have been my food day and night” (Psalm 42:3) “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. (Psalm 42:5 NIV).

David knew that worship is easy in the good times but essential in the hard times.

I’ve learned in those times that turning songs into prayers helps. The words of a worship song happen to play in my head and I use them as a launch pad for the prayers I was struggling to find words for.

Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided;
great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

In the early days of chronic fatigue in 2012, I listened to this hymn on repeat every morning. When I couldn’t predict how the day would unfold in terms of energy and strength or simply being able to cope emotionally, I would remind myself that “Morning by morning new mercies I see“. When I could feel panic rising due to the no work, no pay consequence of sickness, I would remind myself over and over and over again “all I have needed thy hand hath provided“.

The truth of these words brought me through some very dark days.

Worship is a weapon for the battlefield. It’s a sword of truth cutting away all the stuff that’s entangling and ensnaring your heart, freeing you, helping to lift your eyes off the situation and focus on Him, enabling you to declare His words of hope and of freedom.

In 2 Chronicles 20 King Jehoshaphat “appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the LORD and praising him for his holy splendour. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the LORD; his faithful love endures forever!” (2 Chronicles 20:21 NLT)

The valley of battlefield became known as the ‘Valley of Blessing’ (2 Chronicles 20:26 NLT)

In the heat of the battle we too need to make the decision to put our worship at the forefront of our life.

Worship changes our perspective – feelings of despair give way to hope, anxiety is replaced by peace and fear turns to faith as we declare the faithfulness of our great God.

Faithful one, so unchanging, lord of all, you’re my rock of peace

Worship changes our focus – turns our eyes from ourselves to our Father. It reminds us we are not facing this alone and that we can stand firm, lean on Him, trust Him, see what He can do.

God I look to You, I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You; You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom; You know just what to do

‘The Lord rejoices over us with singing’ (Zephanish 3:17) so pay attention to that song that just popped into your head. Wnhat’s He singing over your life?

DON’T ASK!!!

imageJust before Easter Andy and I spent a lovely week with the Vineyard community in Klaipeda, Lithuania leading small groups, spending time at an orphanage, having an ‘Ulster Fry’ outreach day on Saturday and doing Sunday church in a bar!

The week before we left I had just finished my last day of Spanish teaching after almost 14 years (due to budget cutbacks) so the question of ‘what’s next?’ was very much to the forefront of my mind.

During one of our ’round the kitchen table’ times with our friends Kel and Sharon who pastor the church, Kel felt the Lord was turning the question round and asking me “what do you want to do next?”

It’s not often I’m lost for words but I must admit I find that a tough question to answer.

I’m from a generation that was brought up to believe “You don’t ask. You wait until you’re asked.

But He IS asking!!!

He is asking ‘What do you want to do?’ He is asking ‘What are the desires of your heart?’

It’s Zoe’s birthday this week so I’ve been asking her what she wants to do for her birthday? She’s usually good at coming up with ideas but imagine if the conversation went like this instead …

“Whatever you want me to do.” Yes, but I want you to enjoy doing what you really want to do? “Just whatever you want.” But I want to know what you want

Do you get the idea?

I would feel slightly frustrated because I was giving her the opportunity to do what she really wanted and probably a bit hurt that she didn’t feel like she could tell me.

Our Father is asking us ‘What do you want to do?‘ ‘What are the desires of your heart?

Yet we are afraid to say what they really are – WHY?

Fear of failure or foolishness? Fear of being disappointed or being a disappointment? Fear of getting it all wrong?

Last night at church the words of Romans 8:15 echoed as we sang “I am no longer a slave of fear, I AM A CHILD OF GOD” No Longer Slaves, Bethel Music

Is it not our Abba Father who gives us the desires of our heart in the first place? Is He not the sower of seeds in the soil of our heart?

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:9-11 NLT)

As the preceding verse states “For everyone who asks, receives.” (Matthew 7:8 NLT)

He is a good good Father and He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)

As I pondered these thoughts, I felt God show me a request form with two boxes. One was marked “Request” leaving space to be completed and the other said “Approved by” waiting for a signature to confirm approval had been given.

Approval is normally granted after the request has been made. But then I saw a page with the word APPROVED already stamped on it in bright red ink, like the request form was marked approved even before the request was made!!

You have His total approval. He trusts you. He is for you. He delights in you. He has great plans for you.

So WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?

The FLIP SIDE

Happy Easter Monday!! On Good Friday I heard a podcast by Simon Ponsonby (latest podcast fav!) saying “The power of the resurrection is a transformed mind and a transformed life.”

The truth of this was climageear at our Easter Sunday service. We heard power-full stories of lives being totally transformed by the love of God and saw ‘cardboard testimony’ of some of the many lives that have been turned around by Him.

One by one, each person displayed a card identifying what they had been trapped by, including … debt, depression, fear, anxiety, guilt, cancer, abusive or painful past, suicidal thoughts.

They then turned their card over and the flip side revealed how their life had been turned around … debt free, cancer free, living a life of peace and forgiveness, joy and hope.

No longer ensnared they were freed to enjoy the fullness of HIS LIFE and HIS LOVE.

The flip side revealed stories of transformation from …
– orphan to son
– corpse of religion to life in Christ
– shame and unworthiness to acceptance as a child of the King
– self-harm to self-acceptance
– angry at God to loved by God
– square peg to new purpose

We spontaneously applauded each story of transformation. Each one is a miracle, revealing His power and displaying His glory in ways we can’t help but celebrate together.

I loved that one person’s journey had taken them from being debt-ridden and helpless to being a debt-coach helping others find freedom from debt!!! TRANSFORMATION 🙂

It’s got me thinking about and being thankful for my own ‘cardboard testimonies’ which display how Jesus has transformed my life, especially over the past few years.

Before I tried to find my identity in what I did but now I have found my true identity in whose I am.

Before I was driven by perfectionism but now I’ve been set free by His perfect love.

Earlier this week, a friend sent me a link to a song by ‘Casting Crowns’. The chorus is a reminder that our lives are transformed
Not because of who I am but because of what You’ve done
Not because of what I’ve done but because of who You are
“.

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honour at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT)

The power that raised Jesus from the dead is ‘for us who believe him‘.

For me and for you.

This is the power that turns you around.

The flip side is you don’t have to do it all in your own strength but with ‘the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him‘.

What is your flip side?

Please feel free to share your own ‘cardboard testimony’ as a recognition of what God has done for you and as a way of encouraging others that He wants to do the same for them.

Maybe you can only see one side of the card, the difficult side, but don’t give up for as surely as Jesus was raised from the dead, “the power of the resurrection is a transformed mind and a transformed life” and that power is available to you.