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The Lion of Judah

Hi Everyone!

We are currently in New York hanging out with some alumni.  We’ve been having a great time!  We also have been blessed with some great opportunities for rest, so God is faithful.

One of our songs that we play this year is called, “Lion and the Lamb” by Bethel.  The first half of the chorus goes like this:

Our God is a lion, the Lion of Judah!

He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles.

Who can stop the Lord Almighty?

This is pretty great!  God is powerful and strong.  There are countless passages throughout scripture where God is cited as fighting for us (ex. Romans 8:31).

However, as I was reading my Bible this morning, I stumbled across a verse in Hosea 5:13-15:

When Israel and Judah saw how sick they were,
    Israel turned to Assyria—
to the great king there—
    but he could neither help nor cure them.
I will be like a lion to Israel,
    like a strong young lion to Judah.
    I will tear them to pieces!
I will carry them off,
    and no one will be left to rescue them.
Then I will return to my place
    until they admit their guilt and turn to me.
For as soon as trouble comes,
    they will earnestly search for me.

Man… that makes you think twice about celebrating that God is like a lion… You see, in this point of the Bible, Israel had rebelled against God a countless number of times.  They deserved to be punished and nothing on earth could protect them from the wrath of God.  The anger of God can be like the attack of a lion.  Nothing can stop it.

After reading this verse, it made me think, “How can we celebrate that God is like a lion?”

I did some research and this metaphor is not alone.  There are countless times throughout scripture that wrath is referred to as a lion.  BUT I did find Hosea 11:9-11

No, I will not unleash my fierce anger.
    I will not completely destroy Israel,
for I am God and not a mere mortal.
    I am the Holy One living among you,
    and I will not come to destroy.
For someday the people will follow me.
    I, the Lord, will roar like a lion.
And when I roar,
    my people will return trembling from the west.
Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt.
    Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria.
And I will bring them home again,”
    says the Lord.

Why do these people come running to the Lion?

Because He became the Lamb for us.

We all deserve the lion-like wrath of God because we have gone against Him and His commandments.  But God, who is rich in mercy and grace, loved YOU so much that He gave up His position as the powerful lion to become a weak sacrificial lamb.  He paid the price that we deserved to pay by receiving the wrath of God on the cross.

But the Lion didn’t stay dead.  He rose again!  And if you have faith and believe in Jesus as your Savior, then you can have access to the one who is now “roaring with power and fighting our battles!”

Who can stop the Lord Almighty?

Our Adventures This Week!

Hey Everyone! This first week and a half has been a very eventful one for all of us. From Minnesota to New York, we have at times done three concerts a day and have been driving for long periods of time. Yet it has been an amazing adventure, and I wanted to share with you some of the places we have been during this eventful beginning of tour!

1. Churches and youth groups! Whether it has been a Sunday morning service or a Wednesday night youth gathering, we have had incredible opportunities playing at churches. Sometimes we have played for the worship portions of services, while other times we had the whole hour to perform a program. So far we have played at churches in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

2. Colleges and Christian highschools! We have played for Christian gatherings at public colleges and many chapel services at highschools this past week. So far we have played at schools in Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. 

3. Ministries! We have had the incredible opportunity of playing for two ministries during this first week of tour! One of them was a YFC (Youth for Christ) located in Columbus Ohio. The other one was a rescue mission located in Wilmington, DE.

At all of these places, we were incredibly blessed by all of the people we encountered and their provision for us. We were very encouraged by our interractions with contacts, hosts, and concert attendees this week! Therefore, even though the beginning of tour has been very busy, I have come out this week feeling blessed: blessed by the opportunities that God has given us as a team, and blessed by the people God has placed in my life!

rest.

Resting is something that I’ve never been good at. I’ve always had this compulsive need to stay busy. I rarely say “no” to people. I push myself to my limits often. I have a hard time sitting down to simply relax or breathe. Sometimes I have a hard time watching movies because there’s this voice in my head telling me that I’m being lazy when there’s a million other things that I could be doing.

This often results in a burn out. It results in me not getting enough sleep, over-committing myself, and never actually leaving time for myself or for time with God. Burning out isn’t fun. When I burn out I can’t think straight, my emotions are all over the place, and I can’t wholeheartedly face the tasks in front of me.

Unfortunately this can happen in my life in ministry. I forget priorities and forget to do my devotions and spend time with the Lord. I become spiritually weary and tired. It seems as though I have this fog weighing down my spirit and body and that is causing me to lose sight of my Saviour. It’s in these moments when I need to rest. In these times that I need to turn to the Lord and be filled by Him. For if I’m not going to Him to be filled, how will I have anything to pour into others?

In the book of Matthew there’s a well known verse that says,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 28-30

Mmm. So good. Jesus is giving us a promise of rest. Not just a promise for physical rest from labor, but a a promise of rest for our souls. A rest that we can only find in Jesus when we are following him. A rest in the business and chaos. In the hard times, in the times where we are so overwhelmed, we are promised REST. And after all, God created a day specifically for rest and he himself rested on that day. I was made to rest. I was made to rest in Him.

I find hope in this. That I don’t need to push myself to my limits, that I know my God sees me in my weariness and that he knows that I need to rest. He promised rest. He made a day for rest. He rests. I am learning how to rest. 

We are set free

“Now my debt is paid. It is paid in full by the precious blood that Jesus spilled.

Now the curse of sin has no hold on me. Whom the Son sets free,

Oh is free indeed.”

-from “Man of Sorrows” by Hillsong Worship

We’ve been on the road for a week and a half now. We’ve made our way to PA, and we’ll be playing at Michael’s home church for the next couple days! As we’ve started this tour, I’ve been constantly reminded of the lyrics above from one of our songs on our repertoire. The lyrics are so powerful and hold so much truth.  Our sins have been paid, and we have been set free because of Christ’s death on the cross. As believers, we are free from our sins and it even says in Romans 8:1 that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

But why is it so hard to remember this truth? Why is it so easy to simply know that you’re set free and to instantly forget?

If you’ve ever seen our concerts, you might have seen us do one of our dramas to a song called, “Dare You to Move.” The drama tells the story of the gospel and starts from the beginning when God created the world and man and ends with Christ dying on the cross and restoring our relationship with him. I play Eve in the drama (from Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis) and there’s this moment when I (or Eve), eats the fruit from the tree that God specifically said she couldn’t eat from. She instantly realizes her mistake and starts to run.

Every time I do that drama, I’m reminded of how much I’m like Eve. Whenever I know I’ve sinned, my first instinct is to run or try to resolve the issues on my own. There are times when I know I’m wrong, but instead of stopping, I will continue to run because pride won’t let me stop. It’s in these moments when I forget that my debts have been paid. That I’ve been set free from the bondage of sin. I forget what Christ did for me 2,000 years ago. I’m caught in my own guilt and shame, but that’s exactly what we are set free from! I’ve been learning to preach the gospel to myself daily because I know that I desperately need the gospel. It is so important to remind yourself of the gospel daily and to preach the gospel to others, so that you can have a fuller understanding of who God is. 

There is a Cloud

Hear the word roaring with thunder

With a new future to tell

The dry season is over

There is a cloud beginning to swell

-There is a Cloud, Elevation Worship

Have you ever felt as if you were living in a fog? Like your mind was in a haze, and you couldn’t seem to find your passion? I’ve been there.

Over the past week, I felt like a dark cloud had settled over my soul, and it seemed as if everything was mundane. I knew what I should be passionate about, and I knew that there was still a fire in my heart, but I felt so forgetful. I seemed to miss the moments and opportunities that presented themselves right to my face, but I couldn’t find it within me to care. Lately, I’ve been reading a book by Erwin Mcmanus called “Chasing Daylight.” In this book, the author talks about how our lives are filled with divine moments that we can either seize or let slip through our fingers and that even the seemingly mundane, routine moments of our lives are filled with untapped potential that can be used by God through us to create the future He has planned.

This tour is the last tour that my team and I will travel. It is also the last tour that CTI Music Ministries will travel as a whole, and likely the last time that many people will see a CTI team. This reality has been a part of the essence of this dark cloud, and I have felt the weight of it.

But there is a new cloud.

The word of God is roaring with thunder, with a new future to tell. I love the imagery in this song by Elevation Worship because it puts my mind into an eternal perspective. God’s word is roaring with thunder, and it has been since the beginning of human history. His story is not limited to the Bible or the Gospel, but it is a continuous story that is shaping the future of humanity; this new future is one that will be shaped by those who are faithful to the ministry that God has placed on their hearts, those who hear the roaring battle cry of His word and answer to its call. Those who seize the divine moments that are placed in front of them.

So, a new cloud is beginning to swell. The dry season is over, and the future is ours to tell. Ministries will come and go, people will live and die, and the all the things of this world will eventually fade away… but the Gospel will remain the same, and its ability to be proclaimed won’t be diminished. What moments are passing you by? What potential remains untapped and forgotten? Is there a dark cloud that has settled over your soul that needs to be lifted?

To the skies heavy with blessing

Lift your eyes, offer your heart

Jesus Christ opened the heavens

Now we recieve the Spirit of God