Posts Tagged With: redemption

Hallelujah, New Verses, New Version

Yesterday I shared the song Hallelujah on the piano at a nursing home. I had written some new verses for this song and talked about one of them with the group. As I spoke about the inspiration behind it, I was deeply moved. Here is the verse:

“Those who’ve been forgiven more,
Respond with love to the Lord,
So remember all the grace He’s given to ya,
He pursues you when you go astray,
When you choose wrong and lose your way,
Forgiveness gives you back your Hallelujah!”

The Inspiration:

hallelujah-squirrel.png editedOnce while Jesus was dining at the home of Simon, a religious leader, a woman who had a reputation for living a sinful life walked into Simon’s house. She stood at Jesus feet and sobbed in Christ’s loving presence. She was so moved and grateful for the grace, redemption, and lack of judgement she had found with Jesus that she washed his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

She even kissed Jesus feet and anointed them with expensive perfume. I was so overwhelmed as I spoke of how Jesus heart must have gone out to her… but then, sadly, this was compromised and soiled by Simon’s judgmental attitude toward the woman.

So Jesus told Simon a story about a king who forgave a man a smaller debt and another man a larger debt. Who do you think loved the king more?

Answer: The one who was forgiven more.

Jesus responds:

“I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Luke 7:47 NLT

Read more about that story and hear my two year old sing the song Hallelujah!

I suppose the reason I get emotional over that story is because I can so relate to being the prodigal who has been warmly welcomed home by a loving heavenly Papa. This woman’s story is the prodigal son story fleshed out in a real life event in Jesus life. The woman is the prodigal and the religious leader was the older brother. We all ought to celebrate the grace and redemption of Jesus and then, like the Father does, gently and lovingly urge the “older brothers” among us to join the party!

Here is a Ukelele version of this brand new take on the song. It has a new melody and everything!

More Nursing Home Ministry Update:

My ministry concerts just keep getting better and better. My wife asks me how my concert went day after day and my reply has been for a while now, “It was the best one yet”!

A year ago I had a desire to be able to start incorporating piano into my concerts. Now I have enough really nice arrangements of piano songs in my repertoire to fill up an hour or more and have written a few songs on the piano as well. I love it!

I wanted to learn to play Be Thou My Vision on the piano because it is such a beautiful and powerful song. Read the song story here! The first time I decided to try Be Thou My Vision on the piano at a concert I figured that I would just play block chords which I was confident I could do. Instead I was amazed when I played all this arpeggiation and how the song had such flow and feeling. It was a great feeling to have communicated the song so well!

I shared Be Thou My Vision recently in Sheboygan and one lady talked with me afterwords. “That was one of my most favorite hymns. Thank you for sharing that. I am so glad I came down and I almost missed it. I enjoyed it so thoroughly even though I am in such incredible pain!” she said as she gripped my hand.

It blessed my heart so much recently at my concert in Milwaukee when one lady afterwords said, “I just feel so full of God! I just feel so full of God!” And this after I shared with her the “Leonard Nimoy blessing” and talked about what God’s Name, El Shaddai, means. From my studies it indicates that God is the One who fully satisfies our hearts. All our longings, desires, needs, and dreams. God satisfies them all!

It is interesting to think that this is why there is absolutely no reason to sin. To sin is not to trust and to look elsewhere to meet your “needs” or to find your identity in something less than God our Good Shepherd. If Jesus is your Good Shepherd, he takes such good care of his sheep that they lie down in green pastures. You, an ignorant helpless sheep, have all that you need, you are so full of blessing to the point that your lying down at rest with all this lush provision all around you. Your thirst is so satisfied in God and the peace he gives calms your heart and mind, your cup runs over with blessing!

I’d suggest for us all to read and meditate on Psalm 23 NLT:

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

Categories: Forgiveness, Gospel, Grace, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tullian Tchividjian, a man after God’s own heart

 Tullian TchividjianTullian Tchividjian stepped down from his leadership role as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after he confesses to an immoral relationship. His wife committed adultery, he then followed the same destructive path. His last few tweets as of today were:

“I’m so so sorry. I love you all…fade to black.”

“So grateful that God is a bottom feeder.”

“No vertical condemnation does not mean no horizontal consequences. Surrender early.”

“Welcome to the valley of the shadow of death…thank God grace reigns here.”

“You and I are persistent promise breakers. God alone is a perpetual promise keeper.”
From his twitter page.

His bottom feeder comment reminds me of the song Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. As I like to say whenever I play that song, that chariot will swing as low as it has to in order to rescue the worst of us.

The Bible tells us that when Jesus suffered on the cross, He “swallowed death“. He became sin to make us the righteousness of God. Because of his love for us and for his Papa He voluntarily drunk the dregs of all it means to be separated from Love – His Papa – to rescue us from all that we had become apart from him. The way I like to think about Christ’s atonement is that Jesus has plumbed the very lowest depths of hell to rescue whoever might be there. He came for every last one of us sinners (see Ephesians 4:9-10).

Jesus took Tullian’s sin upon himself at the cross. At the cross Jesus became guilty of Tullian and his wife’s adultery and has already suffered the wrath of God on his behalf because of his great love for them. Jesus has done the same for you. He became guilty of all your sin.

Tullian is obviously receiving the forgiveness and restoration that Jesus extends to him. He has confessed his sin and can expect, along with anyone else who confesses their sin, to be completely forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)

One of the comments on one of the posts on Tullians Facebook page was this:

“Tullian Tchividjian, hearing the news was heart breaking. I pray God uses this to further his gospel and pray you and your wife find common ground. You said it yourself “I am the biggest sinner I know.” You are upholding that phrase well but you are also upholding a better practice, confession and repentance. What you did makes you no less of a leader to a lot of us. Depending how you handle the situation it could even make you a bigger one. Come out of this a better pastor, father, and husband. Don’t rest and give the devil hell.”

God will and is using this to further the Gospel (The Good News) that Jesus loves and forgives sinners. None of our sin will remain secret for long. All of heaven knows all our stuff already, and the Lord has said, “you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num 32:23) and “God cannot be mocked, we reap what we sow”. And again, “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” (Luke 12:2 NASB)

We will all stand before God one day and give an account for our lives. Jesus has assured us we have the opportunity through trust in him and by receiving his gift of righteousness that we can stand before him pure and clean and as white as snow warmly received by cheering crowds of heavenly saints and angels because we trusted and appropriated his gift.

Or, we can hide and cling to our sin and suffer the profound shame and regret in the presence of a Holy God and all the saints and angels.

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NLT (NASB says “will find compassion”)

Another quote from Tullian:

“If the depths of everyone’s sin was made public, we would all be much more gracious to each other.” ~ Tullian Tchividjian

He’s very quotable. I also wholeheartedly believe he truly is a man after God’s own heart. This phrase was used by the LORD of King David. His sins were made public too. He suffered some severe horizontal consequences. Many who are reading this have as well. There is grace for you!

The thing about grace that is often overlooked, and even perhaps not stressed enough (even by Tullian) is that grace empowers us to live holy lives. To live a holy life is a New Testament imperative:

“…but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth…” 1 Peter 1:15-17 NASB

He means it. He gives us the Holy Spirit to see to it. He expects it, commands it, and demands it. So, what does being “holy” mean? I have come to learn that, just like the commitment we make in marriage, it means essentially that you become 100% God’s… i.e. wholly God’s, surrendered. This is what the Bible also refers to as, “pure in heart”. We get to surrender our all to love! This is why I love the song I Surrender All which appears on our last album:

The result of this complete and absolute and total surrender is living empowered by the Holy Spirit to do and be and live as God would have you to. His Grace (His unmerited favor) works this into our lives:

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14 NKJV)

God will change us because he loves us Tullian

I still love Tullian and still think he has a great deal to contribute to the kingdom of love in Jesus Christ… in fact, even more so now. I am reminded of a quote about Johnny Cash after he passed on: “Sinners make the best saints.”

I will still recommend Tullians books and teachings (Here is one not to be missed: Jesus Plus Nothing Equals Everything!). I also suggest you visit his Facebook page and subscribe for grace filled quotes and encouragement. I pray for the healing of his marriage and that God would bless his ministry to all the rest of us sinners made saints by the grace (unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor – and smile – of God upon us) of Jesus (whose Name means “I AM Salvation”). I encourage you to run to Jesus yourself and find his open arms welcoming you back into the sweet loving fellowship of your Papa who loves you intensely and immensely.

Jesus plus nothing equals everything

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Categories: Forgiveness, Gospel, Grace, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Redeemed, Song and Story

Redemption is such a beautiful thing! I absolutely love the idea that any prodigal can come home to find Papa running to meet them. He embraces everyone who comes to him and showers them with affection and fatherly love. All of heaven rejoices! This is the very heart of God. Redemption is the heartbeat of heaven.

Jesus has said, “”It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32 ESV)

Again, Jesus told a story to illustrate this in Luke 15 after he is “maligned” by the religious leaders who said, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”.

Well, actually he tells three stories. Each story increasingly emphasizes the value of what has been lost and then found. The story of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and finally the lost son. I don’t know how many times I have cried at the story of the prodigal son.

I remember on one occasion I was reading Luke 15 at a nursing home and when I came to the verse where the Father says, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” Jesus stood right in front of me and looked me in the eyes. He was speaking those words to my heart… and yes, I cried.

Psalm 107 is full of stories of people being redeemed and rescued as they simply call on the Lord for help. I hope this song, which is based on Psalm 107 blesses you and spiritually enriches your life!

Thanks for listening! Leave me a comment to let me know how this has touched your life!

ps. Take a moment to read Luke 15 again… and again!

Categories: Forgiveness, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hallelujah, Sung by Emma

womanwashingjesusfeetJesus was once having dinner with a religious leader when suddenly, in walks a woman who had a reputation for living a sinful life. She is at Jesus feet, sobbing. She washes Jesus feet with her tears and dries them with her hair, kisses his feet and anoints them with perfume.

It was an incredible humbling and extravagant act of gratitude. She had found redemption. She had found grace. She had found forgiveness. (Read the full story below)

I have been sharing this story for a month or more at my nursing home concerts. This story inspired a new verse to a song that I have been singing to my girls for the past several months. It is extremely popular around our house and currently my two year old’s favorite song. I am sure you know it as well. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.

There is hardly a day that goes by that my Emma doesn’t ask me to sing this song to her. Sometimes she drags my guitar or Ukulele across the room to have me play it for her.

Here is the new verse:

“Those who’ve been forgiven more,
respond with love to the Lord,
So remember all the grace He’s given to ya.
He pursues you when you go astray,
When you choose wrong and lose your way
Forgiveness gives you back your Hallelujah!”

I love those last few lines and have felt the Holy Spirits smile and presence at times when I sing it. Forgiveness gives you back your Hallelujah!

Please leave me a comment and be sure to subscribe.

From the Gospel of Luke:

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”” (Luke 7 NIV)

Categories: Forgiveness, Gospel, Grace, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Beauty of Redemption

I am finally sharing this post after years of having a particular movie come back to mind time and time again. It continues to bless me with a glimpse of God’s redemption.

The Razor’s Edge is a movie in which Bill Murray plays Larry. Shortly after WWI, Larry goes on a quest to find truth, to find something worth living for, to find a purpose to life. He was not content to simply be who everyone else expected him to be, living the status quo life he saw all around him. No, he wanted more.

And so he parts ways with the girl he was seeing at the time, Isabel, and goes off for a year to tour the world, eventually finding himself up on a snowy mountain peak in Nepal. At the end of the year he returns to London to learn that Isabel had married one of Larry’s wealthy and influential friends.

One night, while all three of them were out to dinner together they saw in the restaurant an old friend of theirs named Sophie. Isabel related the gossip about her. Evidently she had gotten mixed up with drugs and alcohol and even worse had now resorted to prostitution. Right then and there Larry decides to rescue Sophie.

Larry takes Sophie home with him, to save her. He convinces her to stay with him each new day and they spend the days just enjoying life. Picnics, outings on the lake, long walks, good conversation… Soon the light comes back to Sophie’s eyes. She remembers what it was to have fun, to laugh again, to really be alive. She has hope.

It was in this unselfish daily outpouring of redeeming love, giving worth to Sophie, and restoring the beauty of her soul that Larry finds what he was looking for all along. He finds meaning and truth in true love. He never so much as makes a reference to her past. But instead he gently woos her, wins her confidence and trust and eventually her heart.

After many days Larry and Sophie become engaged, but Isabel, though married to another, is jealous and sabotages Sophie. She cuts her down with snide remarks and tells her that she doesn’t deserve to be loved by Larry. She doesn’t hesitate to remind her of her past and her words find their mark. Sophie is devastated and begins to drink a bottle of alcohol, a gift from Isabel.

Sophie leaves. When Larry learns that she is gone, he is soon in desperate search of her. Sadly, he learns that Sophie had returned to her old life and finds her at the brothel, drugged up, drunk, and surrounded by wicked men. He pleads with her to come home with him and she replies, “Don’t you see, you’re better off without me.” The men throw him out and beat him up as he struggles to rescue her.

The next day Sophie is found dead, floating in the river.

——–

In this story, I see the heart of God for us. We are “Sophie”. We all need a Savior to come to our rescue, sweep us off our feet, and show us how to live, laugh, and love again. But, our story could end as tragically as Sophie’s if we aren’t careful. We have to fight to embrace the love of Jesus. While it may be true that we don’t deserve God’s outrageous love, that doesn’t matter to him. It isn’t about what we deserve at all. It’s all about his passionate love for us.

There is a verse that saved my life found in 1 John 4:18:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” NIV

or, as another translation puts it:

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” NLT

This verse gives me hope, that though I may still fear, it’s only because I haven’t quite yet grasped God’s perfect love for me. His love is still there. It still remains to be discovered, embraced and that’s encouraging! And then there’s that whole thing about punishment. Let me ask you, are there any sins left to be punished if Jesus took them all at the cross?

What remains then is, will we receive his love? Will we fight for that love, to hang on to that love? (Romans 8)

God will indeed receive you and lavish such love on you, never to mention the ways you went wrong in the past. But, you must not allow the devil to lie to you, and tear you away from the one who loves you so much that he would die for you (and he did). You must hang on to the hope that Jesus offers you. You need to believe!

There is a similar story found early in the book of Hosea in the Bible. Through this story God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea’s wife then leaves him and gets mixed up with other men. Hosea searches for her and when he finds her, he even has to pay a ransom to buy his own wife back.

God orchestrated this story in Hosea’s life to represent God’s relationship with his people. That even though we have been, and are, unfaithful to him, as Hosea’s wife was to him, and even though we cheat on him with our sins, God still loves us. He will not divorce us as his people but will restore us and redeem us… if that’s what we want.

“God has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

He doesn’t even wait for our hearts to turn toward him to redeem us. He redeemed us even when we still loved our sin. Even when we are still pursuing our wicked ways, he died for us. This is what Jesus has done for you and me at the cross.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrated his love toward us in this, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

It is Christ’s death that redeems us from death. It is Jesus who came to our rescue while we were still “in the whorehouse”. He will restore life and beauty to our souls.

One more note. We also must be careful not to play the part of Isabel in other people’s lives. Jesus wants everyone to come to the table of his love and grace. We cannot be obstacles to people coming to Jesus. There is room for everyone and we must not make it about who deserves to come and who is more righteous than the next and who deserves his approval more. No one deserves the extravagant love of God. But God is desperate that everyone knows his generous love and redemption.

Redemption is such a beautiful thing!

Always remember this:

You are loved outrageously by an outrageously loving God!

Love, by Jaeson Ma:

ps. Read Luke 15. This is the Father’s attitude toward us, and relates perfectly to this post:

Luke 15  (NLT)

1 Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!

3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

11 To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.

13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living. 14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. 15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs. 16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.

17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house, 26 and he asked one of the servants what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’

28 “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, 29 but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. 30 Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

31 “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. 32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Categories: Forgiveness, Redemption | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

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