“Christ Be All Around Me” We Sing St. Patrick’s Prayer

Many churches sing this song. “Christ Be All Around Me” which is taken from a prayer attributed to a prayer of St. Patrick called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate”

“Christ Be All Around Me”

As I rise, strength of God
Go before, lift me up
As I wake, eyes of God
Look upon, be my sight

As I wait, heart of God
Satisfy and sustain
As I hear, voice of God
Lead me on, be my guide
Oh be my guide

Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me
Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me
Whoa, whoa
Christ be all around me

And as I go, hand of God
My defense, by my side
And as I rest, the breath of God
Fall upon, bring me peace
Oh bring me peace

Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me
Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me
Whoa, whoa
Christ be all around me

Whoa, whoa
Christ be all around me

Your life, Your death
Your blood was shed
For every moment
Every moment

Your life, Your death
Your blood was shed
For every moment
Every moment

Your life, Your death
Your blood was shed
For every moment
Every moment

Your life, Your death
Your blood was shed
For every moment
Every moment

Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me
Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me
Whoa, whoa
Christ be all around me

Whoa, whoa
Christ be all around me

 

 

Happy St Patrick’s Day! From Captured Slave to a Man on Mission

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Tis the season for parades, green beer, shamrocks, and articles talking about why St. Patrick’s day isn’t all about parades, green beer, and shamrocks. St. Paddy’s Day started as a religious celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

Before all the festivities focused on shamrocks, leprechauns, and good luck wishes, let me tell you about something worth celebrating: a man willing to stand in the gap for Jesus Christ.

This “Feast Day” always took place on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, which was believed to be March 17, 461 AD. In the early 18th century, Irish immigrants brought the tradition over to the American colonies, and it was there that Saint Patrick started to become the symbol of Irish heritage and culture that he is today. As more Irish came across the Atlantic, the Feast Day celebration slowly grew in popularity. So much so, in fact, the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in Boston in 1737.

If you’re wondering why we wear green on St Patrick’s Day, it not just about protection from pinching fingers. It goes back to the Irish Rebellion, when Irish soldiers wore green as they fought off the British in their trademark red. Until then, the color associated with St. Patrick and Feast Day was actually blue.

The reason shamrocks are such a part of St Patrick Day celebrations is that Patrick took a shamrock and pointed out the three leaves on it, as an illustration, to help people understand the Trinity.

The real story of St. Patrick is one of a man on a mission. Not a mission to party, wear funny green hats, or finding leprechauns, but to bring the power of the gospel to his Irish captors. When Patrick was a teenager, marauding Irish raiders attacked his village and abducted him from his home. Patrick was captured, thrown onto a slave ship headed for Ireland, and sold into slavery to an Irish king, who put him to work as a shepherd. Six years later, he escaped and returned home. Throughout that experience, God captured his attention and prepared him for his mission as a missionary to Ireland the home of his very captors and those who enslaved him.

Patrick had been raised in a Christian home, but he didn’t really believe in God. Patrick wrote, “from an early age, he didn’t have any serious interest in religion and that he was practically an atheist when he was a teenager.” But while in slavery, hungry, lonely, frightened, and bitterly cold, Patrick began seeking out a relationship with his Heavenly Father. As he wrote in his Confessions, “I would pray constantly during the daylight hours” and “the love of God . . . surrounded me more and more.”

Six years after his capture, God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, “Your hunger is rewarded. You are going home. Look! Your ship is ready.” What a startling command! If he obeyed, Patrick would become a fugitive slave, constantly in danger of capture and punishment. But he did obey, and God protected him. The young slave walked nearly 200 miles to the Irish coast. There he boarded a waiting ship and traveled back to Britain and his family.

But, as you might expect, Patrick was a different person now, and the restless young man could not settle back into his old life. Finally, thirty years after God had led Patrick away from Ireland, He called him back to the Emerald Isle as a missionary. Patrick understood the danger and wrote: “I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved — whatever may come my way.”

Patrick was determined to return to Ireland as a missionary. God granted him success and the gospel was spread throughout Ireland. Over the next 200 years, Celtic Christians, following Patrick’s example, brought the gospel to Britain, France, and central Europe. Those Irish pirates had no idea that kidnapping a teenager to be their slave would be used by God to bring many thousands to Christ.

Patrick lit a fire in pagan 5th century Ireland, ushering Christianity into the country of Ireland. Ireland was a beautiful island shrouded in terrible darkness. Warlords and druids ruled the land. The Irish of the fifth century were a pagan, violent, and barbaric people. Human sacrifice was commonplace. They worshipped multiple gods of the sky, earth, and water, but across the sea in Britain, a teenager was poised to bring this nation to God. It was an act of defiance that changed the course of a nation.

Since the warlords and druids ruled Ireland and worshipped multiple gods of the sky, earth, and water overcoming that false belief system became Patrick’s his first challenge: to convince the Irish that there was only one God and that his God really did love them.

Patrick came face to face with the warlord chieftains and their druid priests in a showdown on his first Easter morning in Ireland. Part of the pagan worship in the spring was that a start a fire on the hill of Tara and to prohibit all other lights throughout all of Ireland. Patrick was staying in a monastery on the hill of Slane, and in direct defiance of the high king of Tara, Patrick lit a forbidden fire.

Patrick was summoned before the king, and he explained that he “wasn’t a threat, but he was bringing a new light, the light of Christ, the Savior of the world, the Light of the world.

Patrick brought the hope of the resurrected Christ to Ireland as he trekked across the countryside bringing the Gospel to the pagan Celts. Patrick taught Ireland was that there is a cost to discipleship, but it’s a cost worth paying. Discipleship demands of you, but it’s a cost that Christ will help you to pay. Patrick’s ministry lasted 29 years. He baptized over 120,000 Irishmen and planted 300 churches.

If you wear green this St. Patrick’s Day, consider thinking more about the mission than the party. Many gave their lives to Christ because one teenager refused to let the oppression of a godless culture shape his identity.

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #5

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good.
  2. God is in control.
  3. God knows more than we know.
  4. God can do more with what we have that we can.
  5. Everybody surrenders to something. Even the most independent, rebellious people in the world surrenders to something….why not make it God? Everything God does is to provide for you and protect you.

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #4

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good.
  2. God is in control.
  3. God knows more than we know.
  4. God can do more with what we have that we can. God doesn’t need your stuff, He wants you. He wants all of you, and He realizes that many times our stuff come between Him and us. We have a tendency to seek our stuff first….but as we seek God first He will manage all of our details (Matt 6:33).

 

Some Bullet Point Thoughts about the School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

• Don’t just share the hashtag #PrayForParklandFlorida., or type “prayers sent”, etc. Actually, stop and pray for the families involved, the school staff, and the churches in the area as they help one another.

• Are we so self-absorbed (in the best possible usage of the term) that we really don’t care enough to begin praying bold heartfelt prayers, having meaningful conversations, and making a difference where we live?

• Don’t make this a conversation about needing more laws or more gun control. Laws do not change a heart. Laws do not fix mental illness or evil. Regardless of where you stand politically, this is not a gun issue.

• For me, the conversation is about how do we handle mental illness and the ever-increasing spiritual darkness in our nation. Like, if Jesus was here in the flesh right now, would he call that mental illness or would He cast out a demon? If we see a homeless guy running around a cemetery naked and wild (Luke 8:26-39), we would call that mental illness, but Jesus called it demonic. I’m not saying we should blame everything on a demon, and I don’t think a prayer fixes all mental illness issues, but I do believe it is both are issues, not one or the other.

• It bothers me that this type of tragedy has become common enough that we seem to have developed a numbness to it. It is “just had another school shooting”. We get more outraged over common things that happen like someone cutting us off in traffic, or our “fries being cold again” when we go through the drive-through. We get more brokenhearted over what happened on “This is Us” or when a favorite musician dies of a drug overdose.

• It bothers me that we get more vocal and passionate about the political conversations surrounding a tragedy rather than the spiritual conversations that need to be happening.

• At the end of the day, we need Jesus. Evil will always be present and active, but the spiritual apathy of supposed Christ-followers and our churches, only allows the darkness to spread. We are called to be light in the darkness. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. As light increases, darkness decreases.

“All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing”. Apathy is killing us. Fear of offending someone is killing us. The “It’s not my problem” attitude is killing us.

 

 

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #3

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good.
  2. God is in control.
  3. God knows more than we know. Don’t feel bad…..He is God for heaven sakes! The wisest, most highly educated person has a limit to their knowledge. But God’s wisdom and understanding are without measure or limitation.

…to be continued

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #2

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good. God is always good. Sure bad things happen. Life is tough. Some days even seem impossible to survive. Yet God promises to never leave us or forsake us. He doesn’t promise there will not be those impossible days, but He does promise to walk through them with us.
  2. God is in control. Life happens. When it is bad we want to blame God. But God loved you so much He gave us the ability to choose. We can choose disobedience, etc…and reap the consequences of our choices. Sometimes things that are completely out of our control happen….but don’t be confused, God was not caught by surprise. God is in your tomorrow already.

…to be continued

 

 

 

 

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #1

Though surrender may not be a very popular topic, when it comes to Christ-following it is an absolute necessity. Jesus is the perfect example of surrender. In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul challenged us to make our “attitudes the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death….even death on a cross.”

The phrase that stands out to me is “did not see equality with God as something to be grasped”. That pretty much sums up surrender. Willful disobedience is our way of saying that we have a right to disagree, debate, and disobey God. Surrender is how we rightly align our heart, mind, attitudes, and behaviors with God. Even the most compliant of us have a tendency to struggle with complete surrender to God. Though surrender is never easy, it does become easier once we understand some basic principles of surrender.

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good. God is always good. Sure bad things happen. Life is tough. Some days even seem impossible to survive. Yet God promises to never leave us or forsake us. He doesn’t promise there will not be those impossible days, but He does promise to walk through them with us.

…to be continued

The Power of Perspective During Tough Times

“Dear Mom and Dad, I’m sorry to be so long in writing. Unfortunately, all my stationery was destroyed the night our dorm was set on fire by the demonstrators. I’m out of the hospital now, and the doctors say my eyesight should return; sooner or later. The wonderful boy, Bill, who rescued me from the fire, kindly offered to share his little apartment with me until the dorm is rebuilt. He comes from a good family so you won’t be surprised when I tell you we’re going to be married. In fact, since you’ve always wanted a grandchild, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll be grandparents next month.”

“P.S. Please disregard the above practice for my class in English Composition. There was no fire, I haven’t been in the hospital, I’m not pregnant and I don’t even have a steady boyfriend. But I did get a D in French and an F in Chemistry, and I just wanted to be sure you received this news in the proper perspective.”

Your perspective makes all the difference in the world, and it influences how you respond to problems at work, problems at home, problems with your health. Paul says that as Christians we can rejoice even in tough times because we have hope and because we know that God is working in our lives. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3)

Believe it or not, suffering can be productive! It does accomplish something. Problems have a purpose. Your trials and difficulties have value. Just as in childbirth so it is in other areas of life, it is easier to handle suffering when you know there is a purpose in it, and that it is not just in vain.

Now, what exactly does our suffering produce? First, Paul says our suffering produces perseverance (Romans 5:3). The Greek word for perseverance literally means “the ability to handle pressure.” That’s what perseverance is — the ability to handle pressure, to hang in there, to never give up but to keep on keeping on. When we make it through a difficult time without giving up, our character and confidence are strengthened, enabling us to handle even more pressure when it comes in the future.

Next, Paul says perseverance produces character (Romans 5:4). This word occurs only a few times in the Bible, and it means “proven reliable.” God uses the problems in your life to produce perseverance and character. And internal character, not circumstances, produces joy. Then, Paul says, character produces hope (Romans 5:4). Remember, in the Bible, the word hope doesn’t mean “I wish” or “I want.” It means confidence in Christ’s power. Instead of destroying our hope, problems are designed to increase our hope!

Problems don’t automatically produce perseverance and character and hope. Some people go through tough times, and all that happens to them is they become bitter, angry and uptight.  Perseverance, character, and hope are produced in us only when we choose the right attitude.

And what is the right attitude? Joy is the right attitude. James echoes Paul’s teaching on this subject: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3). Notice again, joy comes “because you know.” It’s always a matter of perspective. James continues, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4).

Religious, Spiritual, or a Follower of Christ?

I had a person say to me, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”. I think they thought I’d argue with them about that statement, but I agreed with them, “Yep, me too.” They looked at me so funny. They meant, “I don’t attend church, am frustrated with church, etc”. I meant, “Jesus hated structured religion that was empty of spiritual power, and so do I.”

It’s not about being religious or spiritual; it’s about actually following Christ. Being deeply religious or deeply spiritual without the life transforming work of the Holy Spirit in your life will give you the same results. Hell will be full of deeply religious and deeply spiritual people. Satan himself is spiritual and believes in God. He has just made a decision to not surrender to God. Many religious or spiritual people are in the exact same boat today; they believe, but are not willing to surrender.

Surrender is the single biggest issue we face as followers of Christ. If we can get the surrender issue resolved, everything else falls into place. Jesus revealed the primary way we prove our love in John 14 when He “If you love me, you will obey me”. But I would say that our biggest issue with consistent obedience is surrender.

So, obedience is the primary way we prove our love for Jesus to Jesus. If Jesus was with you right now (and He is in the person of the Holy Spirit) and He asked you, “Do you love me?” Now, before we are too quick to say a resounding “YES!” let me ask you another question. Is there something He is asking you to do or to not do that you have not surrendered to yet?

If God is asking you to respond to Him in some area of obedience, your dialogue with Him would be much like that Peter had with Him in John 21 when He said, “Peter, do you truly love me?” After Peter said “Yes, you know I do Lord”. Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep.” In other words, do what I am asking you to do…prove your love for me through your willingness to obey me.

If Jesus asked me, “Tim, do you love me?” Of course I would say “Yes!”, but I must also be prepared for Him to say, “Then obey me in this specific area of your life”. That is the moment when we really find out whether I truly love Jesus or not. Any answer other than, “Absolutely” only proves that I love myself more than I love Christ.

I am convinced that many folks who claim to love Christ may truly want to love Him, but when it comes down to proving their love through their obedience they fail to make a compelling case. What about you? Does your level of surrender and obedience give evidence of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in your life or not?