The Color Of Love (A Valentine’s Day Blog)

“Roses are red… Violets are blue…”

We’ve heard it time and time again. People even customize their own ending to that rhyme. But why are Valentine’s Day’s colors red, blue, pink, etc.? I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer.

What is clear is that today is about love. Maybe you’re thinking “romantic movie love”. But as believers, we have God’s unconditional love selflessly given to us by the blood of Jesus… The blood that makes even the foulest clean, the blood that makes us white as snow.

It’s ironic though because red, as an emotional color, has a different impact outside of the blood of Jesus (or even Valentine’s Day). A red light, red flag, red bullfighter cape, code red… It’s often associated with stopping, or alarming news, or even danger.

But with today also being Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season, let’s consider Jesus’ death and resurrection leading up to Easter Sunday.

Imagine the day that Jesus bled and died on the cross for us. To spectators, it was alarming and even seemed like the end of the line. But to much of the world’s surprise, that red blood would be fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah and cleansed us, making us white as snow! That very “red” led us to a new life in the Lord, resurrected with Christ! Praise God!

So yes, today will be filled with much chocolate and red roses, nice dinners and surprises. But during the next 40 days of Lent, we invite you to also pray and prepare for the Easter season, thinking about the significance and impact in your life by what Jesus has done. He deserves it all!

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”Isaiah 1:18

Reflection Song: Nothing But The Blood

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Changing Of The Seasons

Fall is officially arriving next week yet halfway through the month of September we’re already getting a glimpse of leaves changing color, school being a couple weeks in, and Halloween merchandise rolling into stores. The seasons are changing!

And I don’t know what it is but the closer we get to winter, the more I think about how life is constantly in motion. Maybe it’s sentimentalism or nostalgia, but I’d like to think of it as a sense of maturing – that we can gauge where we were, where we are, and where we’re going. And there are times where I like this feeling, and others where the feeling isn’t so welcoming.

There’s nothing we can do to speed up the changing of seasons.

Psalm 104:19 reminds us that the Lord our God “made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.”

God knows what’s going on: He set the days and nights since the beginning. He knows how things are continually evolving in your life. It’s already set in motion but He’s got it all under control. Do you believe that? Your season may be changing, whether it’s a new school, changing jobs, or getting ready to tackle parenthood. And as painful or painless as some of these seasons will be, we just don’t have the capability to fast forward or “get it over with”.

The question is: Do you trust that God’s will and way will work out in the end?

A pastor I know once pointed out that people who think of “back in the day” will often dwell too much on what happened in the past – the how and the why. They put so much effort on how things were better/worse, or simply different, without giving a second thought to what’s going on in the here and now. Athletes, scholars, your average Joe… even Christians! Maybe it’s “what church used to be like” or “how God moved so powerfully through me back then”.

But the past is the past and he said that instead of fixating on the how & why, just accept that it did and move forward. I totally agree with that today as the seasons start to change for all of us. Whatever already happened, whether it was good or bad, I pray that you’ll be able to keep maturing as you trust the days ahead into God’s hands and that all things will work for your good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

Reflection Song: Christ Is

What Is Love? (A Valentine’s Day Blog)

What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more). For those of you who don’t know the reference, I’m talking about the 1993 hit song “What Is Love” by Haddaway, which you may recognize from the Will Ferrell/Chris Kattan comedy “A Night At The Roxbury“.

Where am I going with this today and on Valentine’s Day, of all days?

Haddaway was recently interviewed and was asked the question, “So, what is love?”. He responded, “People always ask me what I meant… I meant that ‘what is love’ needs to be defined by everyone by his own definition. It’s unique and individual. For me, it has to do with trust, honesty, and dedication.”

And that’s the truth, isn’t it? People want to be loved specific ways and they also express love to others in different ways. I was reminded of a story I heard on Christian radio not too long ago. Last summer, Nabisco released limited edition Swedish Fish Oreos across the country… Chocolate cookies. Fruit flavor. Cream filling.

I know.

To each his own, right? Everyone enjoys something different, even if that “something different” is actually something disgusting. Likewise, you might love to receive Godiva chocolates today. Or Lindt because of the colorful wrappers. Or Russell Stover… because you like to inflict pain upon yourself. Whatever the reason, the point is that in the end you’re satisfied… for the time being.

So why is it so hard to be satisfied by love? It’s because we all carry our own definition and prerequisites for love. We have our own expectations and bars set in place. But as Christians, it’s simple. No matter what, God is the very definition of love. He’s the epitome of satisfaction. 1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

If today’s a day where you can spend time with a loved one, fantastic! Love selflessly and in a way that brings glory to God.

If you find yourself “alone” today, you’re not! God is always with you despite the Hallmark holidays that may make you feel unloved. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” Show & share that love to someone!

It’s easy to think that love is an individualistic mentality of feelings between one another, but the love we should be focusing on is the all-encompassing, multi-ground covering, completely satisfying love of God. You might respond differently to love, compared to others… in fact, people might not even know what it takes to make you feel loved! But God’s love is a perfect match every time for every person’s unique needs.

Love isn’t in the number of roses you receive or the enormity of a teddy bear. It isn’t in titles or cute nicknames you give someone. What is love? God is love.

Reflection Song: Here Today

New Year, New Store!

Hope everyone’s 2017 is amazing so far! Hard to believe that we’re already 8% through the new year already.

But we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce our new store! People have been asking us about new apparel and today’s the day we launch our latest design:

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For all you fans of the Netflix series Stranger Things, our latest t-shirt design is sure to turn things Upside Down! As always, the purpose of our apparel isn’t just to make clothes with our band name on it… the purpose is to allow the design to break the ice with someone so that you can tell them how Jesus is your shameless plug!

What better way to start a conversation than with Stranger Things?

Currently, this is the only t-shirt available in our store… You guys totally wiped us out of all our other shirts & hoodies (another popular item)! So for now, our only apparel are the ugly Christmas sweaters and this new Stranger tee. We’ve also added a new stock meter so that you can see how close things are to selling out. Don’t miss your chance to get these limited designs! Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

And if shipping isn’t your thing, you can always pick up any of our merch in person at an upcoming event in 2017 (dates coming soon)!

Top 10 Posts Of 2016

2016 was an interesting year, wasn’t it? It was full of ups & downs for entertainment, politics, and, I’m sure, for your personal lives as well. But it’s important to stay rooted in what helps you stay rooted in God. And so we thank you for joining us for another year of quick thoughts on our site. We hope to bring you new music in 2017, but in the meantime please enjoy our ten most visited entries of 2016:

1. Lent, Week 5: Prepare The Cross
2. Lent, Week 1: An Early 40 Days (Prepare Yourself)
3. Christ Is Risen!
4. Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart
5. Almost God
6. Good Friday?
7. Advent 3: JOY
8. Prepare The Way (Palm Sunday)
9. Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection
10. Advent 4: PEACE

And here are our top posts from previous years. Thanks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

2015
2014
2013

Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart

So often in life we say, “thanks”. We instinctively reflex and it comes out, or we say it begrudgingly, or sometimes (sometimes) we really mean it. But just as many of us grew up reading, the Bible gives us one really good reason to be thankful:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…”Psalm 107:1-2

During Thanksgiving time, it’s easy to “give thanks”. Going around the dinner table sharing what you’re thankful for, or going to church and giving a little more for offering during Thanksgiving. I mean, what’s not to be thankful for?

Plenty, actually!

We can count our blessings, be grateful for all the stuff we own, or the people we know, but what about the difficult situations? What about the difficult people? For some of us, what about that difficult job, or that difficult family member? Are you still thankful?

I was reminded of the story of the Israelites fleeing from Pharaoh’s men in Egypt. There was no guarantee of safety. There was an army chasing after them. It seemed like the worst day in the world. How can they give thanks? How can they be grateful?

We all have storms in life. We go through things where it feels like there’s no hope. But just as the Israelites did, we need to trust God even in the rockiest moments. And maybe you’ve had that kind of moment already where you can look back and realize that God was working on a solution for you, where God pulled you to safety so that you too would have a story to share. …Maybe you’re going through that moment even now. But that shouldn’t stop us from praising the Lord or offering a heart of thanksgiving.

It’s easy to be thankful for the great & fluffy things. But look at the trials & storms around you. Can you be more grateful for these as well, for how God is using them and using you to give you a story of His faithfulness? I know I need to work on this as well! So won’t you join me this Thanksgiving and shift your perspective a little bit so that we ask God for His clarity in order to see that indeed He is always good & that His love endures forever. Let’s truly give thanks for everything with a grateful heart…

Reflection Song: All To You

Almost God

So close… but God, if you just answered these prayers you would really be God!

Isn’t that how we think sometimes? This is one of the challenges from Pastor Sam at this past CYG Summer Retreat. “Oh God, You are almost God.” That on our journeys, we ask of God but we see that things don’t always go our way… We forget that what we have with the Heavenly Father is relational, not transactional. In fact, for any healthy relationship it’s important that you’re not keeping score or treating it like a vending machine relationship, and it’s the same with God.

And as we continued to dive deeper into the retreat theme of “Stepping Out”, it was good being reminded (with the stories of Zacchaeus in the sycamore-fig tree and Peter walking on water) that sometimes we need to take a step of faith and trust God – from where we were to where He’s leading. But so often we box God up and limit our perspective of Him, not allowing Him to be all that He is. So what a refreshing sight it was to see so many clenched fists open during worship, lives being changed for a new future, and hope being restored all across this church!

God is good all the time and He always has the perfect plan for your life. We hope that whether you’re reaching & stretching to get a better glimpse like Zaccaheus or you feel like you’re reluctantly taking a step of faith like Peter, you’ll be blessed as you strive for more in your walks with the Lord. Don’t put a cap on who God can fully be in your life. He isn’t almost God – He is always God. Open up your heart and life to the new possibilities only possible through Jesus!

Reflection Song: Here I Stand

Christ Is Risen!

He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. (Matthew 28:6)

Jesus is alive! He’s conquered sin & death and we are alive in Him. We hope that wherever you are today, you will be able to celebrate the risen King – it’s something worth celebrating!

Death couldn’t hold Him down!

We glorify King Jesus Christ
Who died for all our sin
He came to save, conquered the grave
Now we’re alive in Him
He Has Overcome

Happy Easter!

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome

Prepare The Way (Palm Sunday)

I think it’s great that today is both Palm Sunday and the first day of Spring. Something a lot of us do around this time is a little spring cleaning. Tidying up, making room for summer, preparing for a new season… And in a lot of ways, that’s what Palm Sunday is too.

The Bible accounts the crowds in Jerusalem making a way for Jesus. And even us today, we may have given some things up for Lent in order to make more room for Jesus in our lives. It’s our own version of spring cleaning. What better day to recognize how Jesus can enter than Palm Sunday!

Whether you’re at church or unable to attend, today marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final days leading up to Good Friday and Easter. But we all have obstacles in the way. Take a moment today to re-prioritize so that there’s nothing obstructive in our lives. Let’s start today off right and invite Jesus. Clean out the things we don’t need so that He can fill us instead, as the one who satisfies.

Reflection Song: Prepare The Way

Lent, Week 6: Prepare Resurrection

Easter is a time to celebrate the empty grave!

It’s a time to proclaim, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” from the Mystery of Faith. And I love what Charlie Hall does with this proclamation in his song, Mystery: “Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, proclaim His coming. Celebrate His death & rising. Lift your eyes, lift your eyes.” And the death & rising truly is a mystery, but it’s a mystery worth celebrating.

It doesn’t end with Jesus’ death & resurrection! In fact, the Bible says that we too have been resurrected with Christ! Romans 6:1-14 is titled “Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ”. We were buried with Christ through baptism into death so that we could be raised with Him to live a new life for His glory.

Easter is easily a time where we can contemplate the cross, Jesus’ sacrifice, and His death & resurrection. We may have even heard/read/recited John 3:16 more than we can count. But don’t let the power of the resurrection in your own life continue to be buried. We have been raised with Christ!

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Brothers & sisters, prepare for that very resurrection as we draw even nearer to Easter. We are alive with Christ and if sin & death are no more through the power of Christ, continue to be steadfast in your Lenten journey and in your lives. Glory to God!

Reflection Song: Unending Praise

Lent – Prepare: Yourself (Week 1) | Others (Week 2) | Discipline (Week 3) | Your Heart (Week 4) | The Cross (Week 5) | Resurrection (Week 6) | The Way (Week 7)