My God Sings

My God Sings

Often when I am driving in the car by myself I will sing praises to God. When it is just me I don’t have to worry about how loud I am being or feel self-conscious when my voice cracks. Sometimes I’ll sing an old familiar hymn like “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Other times I will sing spontaneous songs of praise. They may not be the most beautiful songs ever written, but they express the cry of my heart in that moment. I love singing unto God. I think it is one of the sweetest privileges we have as believers. It is amazing to think that God not only hears our prayers, He also listens to our music.

He hears each note sung and every chord struck. Like a father watching his child play at his first piano recital, I can picture our Heavenly Father with a big grin and a camcorder in His hand. He loves every second of our songs written for Him. They bring a smile to His face. And He never forgets them; He never tapes over the footage.

Rest assured that God isn’t phased by a wrong notes. He doesn’t cringe when our instruments are a little out of tune. You see, God listens to more than our music; He listens to our hearts. We can play all the right notes, but have the wrong motives. We can have our instruments tuned perfectly, but our hearts not tuned “to sing [His] grace .” We don’t sing to impress God or earn His love. We sing because we love Him. We sing because we are free. We sing because He is worthy of our songs and so much more.

And all the while, He is singing over us. Read the words of Zephaniah 3:17 carefully:

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.

The Lord of All Creation is so delighted in us, His children, that He sings songs of rejoicing! Even with all of our sin and repeated failures, He still delights in us. Friend, if the god you serve isn’t singing, he isn’t the One True God. A god who isn’t rejoicing over his people is probably a god who shouts only words of condemnation. But the God of the Bible remembers our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12).  I pray that these verses would be a reminder to us all of how much God loves us.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a song coming on…

What Do Christians Look Like?

What Do Christians Look Like?

When I was in high school, my church’s youth group would go to a conference called Winter Xtreme in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Perhaps some of you have heard of it. It is a jam-packed weekend of Christians bands and speakers. I remember regularly hearing Casting Crowns and NewSong perform at these events, much to the delight of everyone in attendance. These guys are considered CCM royalty at this point. But, one year a much different band took the stage by the name of Flyleaf. They sounded and looked nothing like Casting Crowns or NewSong. Instead, they looked like this:

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Their music was loud and aggressive. All of the band members were wearing black clothes and eyeliner. The guitarist and bass player were spinning around on stage while playing. And the lead singer, Lacey Sturm, was screaming some of the lyrics at times. It was such a shock to the youth groups in attendance that some people started to boo, while others packed up their things and left. My youth leaders decided to let each of us decide whether or not we wanted to stay. I decided to stay because, well, I liked their sound. And as a drummer myself, I wanted to watch their drummer because he was playing with such speed and velocity.

By the time Flyleaf was on their second or third song, almost half of the audience was gone. It is such a shame because during their set, Lacey Sturm, gave one of the clearest explanations of the Gospel I have ever heard. She also shared her testimony about how close she was to committing suicide before she heard the Gospel herself. That night, I remember many students going forward to receive Christ for the first time. I know that the Lord used her story to reach young people battling the same issues.

I can’t help but wonder about all of the people who left before she shared her story. How many leaders and parents took their students out because they passed a quick judgment on Flyleaf’s looks and music? I have been to many Christian concerts over the years, but I honestly don’t remember hearing a lead singer stop the show in order to share the Gospel. You see, there is a danger in looking at someone and saying, “There is no way they are Christians, just look at them!” What does a Christian look like, anyway?

If a suit and tie made people Christians, I’d buy them for everyone I could. If eating Chick-fil-a could save you, I’d buy as many chicken sandwiches as I could afford. If people could become born again simply by using essential oils, I’d give them out to every person I could come in contact with. But these things aren’t what makes you a Christian.

Sure, you will see many genuine Christians wearing suits, eating Chick-fil-a, and using essential oils, but these reveal nothing about their standing with God. It doesn’t matter what we look like on the outside. What matters is what has taken place within the depths of our souls. Please listen to me—you can look Christian and still end up in hell. You can wear all the Christian t-shirts, own an ESV Study Bible, listen to TobyMac, teach a Sunday School class, even preach behind a pulpit and still not know the One, True, Living God.  

Have you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus as your personal Savior? Have you been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb? 

God is calling people from every tribe, nation, tongue…and walk of life. Just because someone doesn’t look like you doesn’t mean that they don’t know Jesus. Rejoice in how diversely beautiful the body of Christ is already and will be once the Great Commission is fulfilled. Thank God that Christians can look like you, like Casting Crowns, like Flyleaf, like anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. Maybe Lacey Sturm didn’t look like someone I’d see at my church, but on that night, she looked like Jesus.

Learn a New Skill to the Glory of God

Learn a New Skill to the Glory of God

Have you ever tried learning a instrument? Or studied a foreign language? It can be a very challenging undertaking. There are plenty of wrong notes and words at first, but eventually you get to where you can play your first song or have a conversation in the new language. You feel a great sense of accomplishment for persevering through all of the hours of practice and repetition. It’s a wonderful feeling!

Learning new skills can open up doors of opportunity that were previously closed to you. It allows you to make new friends and develop new relationships with people you never would have met before.  For the past two years, my wife and I have been studying the Thai language. It has been a rather daunting task at times, but it has also been extremely rewarding. It is difficult to imagine where we would be right now if we hadn’t been studying Thai. We have met so many people as a result of our studies and practice of the language. I believe it has also allowed us to make real friends with Thai people because they see we appreciate their language and culture enough to learn it. We still have a long journey ahead of us on the road to fluency, but I know that the Lord will help us every step of the way.

Of course, as missionaries, we aren’t just trying to learn the language so that we can order Pad Thai or talk about our favorite Thai movie. We are pouring hours and hours into studying so that one day we can preach the Gospel and share God’s Word in Thai, without too much distraction from our foreign accent. There is a goal to all of this: it’s to make Jesus known among Thai people, that they too might glorify God.

Maybe you are considering learning a new language, taking a cooking or photography class, or perhaps, learning how to juggle. Whatever it is, let me encourage you to do it. Pursue it! Give it a try! You never know, you may end up loving it. It may even take your life in a completely different direction. But, whatever you end up trying, leverage it to the glory of God. Do painters need Jesus? Do writers need Jesus? What about skateboarders? Yes, of course they do! And you could be the person to tell them about Him. Is that not reason enough to give it shot?

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, the Apostle Paul says:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

Paul was willing to do some “preevangelism” in hopes that unbelievers would be more open to listening to the Gospel. If he had to learn a new skill, so be it. In verse 19, Paul says that although he is a free man, he has made himself a slave to all people. He was willing to do whatever it took in order to save some. Are we?

3 Songs I Listen to On Repeat

3 Songs I Listen to On Repeat

If you know me well, you know how much I love music. I love playing it, singing it, listening to it, and occasionally writing it. I actually planned on majoring in music (as a percussionist) in college before God call me to missions. Even though God steered me in a different direction, I still have a special place for music in my heart. The Lord has used music many times to help me get through some really difficult seasons. He has also used it to build my faith and deepen my understanding of His Word. Today I want to share three songs that have blessed me tremendously in recent years.

1. Holy Spirit Have Your Way by Leeland

This song has a special place in my heart. I listen to it all the time and yet, it never seems to get old. It is such a beautiful prayer about surrendering one’s life completely to God. I like the album version a lot, but the orchestral version is also very beautiful. I am currently learning how to play this song on the piano, so that I can play and sing it whenever I want. If you interested in hearing about how brothers Leeland and Jack Mooring were inspired to write this song, check out this interview by Worship Together.

2. He’s Always Been Faithful by Sara Groves

Sara Groves is one of my favorite Christian artists. She is a wonderful storyteller and a gifted pianist in her own right. Her retelling of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” is one of the most beautiful adaptions I have ever heard. It is hard to think that someone could improve upon such a classic hymn, but I think Sara Groves has done it with this song. If you have never listened to the song or her music in general, I strongly encourage you to do so today. Also, be sure to listen to Sara’s testimony about what she was going through when she wrote this beautiful song.

3. Farther Along by Josh Garrels

This was the first song I ever heard by Josh Garrels. It was so different from everything else out on Christian radio at the time (2012). I instantly fell in love with Josh’s music. In fact, I can sing almost all the lyrics to every song on the album, “Love & War & The Sea In Between.” Like the previous song in the list, “Farther Along” is also an old hymn reimagined; however, I think the original hymn is not very well known anymore. I have only occasionally seen it in some older Baptist hymnals. The chorus in both songs goes like this:

Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.

In the verses, the author contemplates why it sometimes seems the righteous suffer, while the wicked thrive. He concludes in the chorus that while we may not understand why God allows certain things to happen now, we will one day, “farther along.” Personally, I like Josh Garrels’ verses a little bit more than the original, but they are both filled with rich truths. Be sure to give them both a listen when you get the chance. Also, here is a video of the concert where I got to hear him perform the song live in Atlanta. It was awesome!

I hope you enjoyed this list! I plan to share more songs in the future, as I am always updating my playlist. What are some songs you like to listen to on repeat? I would love to hear about the songs that you hold close and dear to your heart.

Alejandro Aranda American Idol audition

In the Presence of Greatness

This morning, I stumbled across a video that one of my friends shared on Facebook. It was a clip from last night’s episode of American Idol. A 24 year old guy by the name of Alejandro Aranda preformed his original song on the guitar in front of celebrity judges: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. As soon as he started playing, I knew that this guy is going to be a superstar; I believe the judges did too. With his creative guitar strumming, interesting cord progressions, and lyrical depth, Alejandro has captivated the hearts and ears of people all over the world. If you haven’t see the performance, here is the link  The video already has over a million views in one day!

Lionel Richie loved his performance so much that he asked him to play something on the piano as well. Alejandro did not disappoint— it was spellbinding. After he finished, the judges gave their thoughts. Richie said Alejandro is “no joke” and “not playing around.” Perry basically said that she believed Alejandro will be the next American Idol. I would have to agree. But, it was Luke Bryan’s response that struck me the most. He said that he felt like he was in the “presence of greatness.” He said he had never seen anything like it.

Have you ever felt that way before? Have you ever felt like you were in the presence of greatness? As a musician (I play the drums), I have been to concerts and listened to albums that made me feel this way. I think I am an okay drummer when its just me, but if I look up a video of the late Buddy Rich I feel unworthy to even call myself a drummer in comparison to him. There are many people who are decent, a lot who are really good, but only a handful are truly great.


Brother and sisters, as great and talented as some are, no one can compare to the greatness of Jesus. He captivated the Jewish scholars as a twelve year old with His knowledge of the Word of God. He amazed the crowds with His authority to cast out demons and heal the sick. He gave the best sermon ever given on the Mount. He walked on water in the midst of a storm, and then calmed the storm! The men in the boat said, “Who is this that even the winds and waves obey Him?” But this isn’t the greatest thing He did. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He endured the wrath of God that we deserved. And three days later He rose victoriously from the grave! There is truly no one greater than Jesus.

And the greatest person who ever lived (and will ever live) lives within us, brothers and sisters. We won’t just be in the presence of greatness one day in heaven; we are in the presence of greatness now because of Jesus. Luke Bryan said that Alejandro’s performance “rocked him.” In other words, it changed him deeply. If a musician can do this with his song, what can Jesus, our God and King, do with His love? Being in the presence of greatness changes you; there is no doubt about it. Could it be that some so-called “Christians” do not behave like Jesus because they have never truly been in His presence? Jesus either lives in you or he doesn’t. You have either encountered Him or you haven’t.

And here is one last thing to think about. After Alejandro’s incredible audition, people have shared the video like wildfire, saying “hey, you’ve got to see this guy!” Christians, if we have truly experienced the greatness and goodness of God, then why aren’t we telling the whole world about it? Let’s make the greatness of our God known in all the world today! Amen?


How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension! 

Psalm 147:5