Friday, January 28, 2011

#4 "White Flags Flown"

     Sometimes (most of the time, actually) someone else's song needs to be shared because it is so soul-stirring and truth-telling as it points the way to God. This is one of those times.
     I have been listening to this new song, written and recorded by Nathan Woodard, a young man we've known since he was in youth group with our daughter and now son-in-law at First Baptist, Midland. Nathan came to Christ in high school and is now a worship leader in Midland. Listen to Nathan sing to the Lord, and check out his band, newsound. Currently you can download this song for any contribution, even $0! Click on the link, and listen.
Lord, I thank you for this song from newsound.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Song #3: The Gift of a New Father and a New Name

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it." Revelation 2:17

     In the last blog I wrote about the importance of having a good name (at least, in my family.) Mom's good name I mentioned was that of my step-father, Harry Harmon. He married "us" when I was only four years old, and I was so excited that I went skipping down the street where our new home was singing, "I have a new daddy! I have a new daddy!"
      When I started first grade, I tried to enroll under his name, but that disguise didn't last for long because I wasn't adopted by my step-dad and still had my biological father in my life. My dad's family raised quite a ruckus when they discovered I was enrolled in school under "Judy Harmon."
     None-the-less, I called Harry "Daddy", and he was my daddy in the best sense of the word. He loved my mother and me and was a Godly, Christian man. Having lost his own father at a young age, he felt called to be a daddy to someone who needed one. I needed one alright, but I subconsciously expected him to be the same kind of daddy I already knew--changeable, undependable, scary at times, judgmental, but still charming and lovable in good moments. Thankfully, I was wrong.
      Daddy turned out to be quite different from my expectations. He proved his nature the first time he took me out to fly a kite when I was four. I had to search out a thirty-year-old composition book to find this song I wrote about the experience:

The Lost Kite (the found child)

I remember the day when my daddy and I flew a kite.
It was a beautiful day in the park, and the sun was so bright.
And the wind was so strong;  Daddy said to hold on.
He'd be right back when he'd found a sack.
Then we would use it for a parachute.

So I held on , but the wind was so strong
That the kite blew away in the wind.
   So I ran and ran to try and get it back again,
   But it sailed away over the fence.

So I cried and I cried because I'd let the kite get away,
And I was afraid of my Daddy and what he might say.
Then Daddy came back and was holding the sack.
He looked my way and had one thing to say.
He said, "That's okay."
He said, "That's okay."

    Daddy was a representation of God's love to me at that moment--loving, forgiving, and comforting. I was more important to him than the kite! He picked me up in his arms and carried me home and dried my tears without a single word of scolding.He gave me unconditional love and continued to be a trustworthy father from that time onward. I didn't have the privilege of bearing his name, but I always carried his love.
     Aside from Daddy's name, I cannot think of a better name to have than that of Christ's--"Christian". But the word "Christian" is not what the disciples called themselves in the Bible. By others they were called "Christianos", followers of the anointed one, as in Acts11:26. "Christian" is not  even the name God gives us when we become His own. He doesn't call us "followers", but "children", and not just children but His children by adoption.

John 1:12 "To all who received him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God." 

Romans 8:15-17 "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father! " the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him."
   I am God's child with rights to both inheritance, like an adult son, and to intimacy, like the kind I experienced with my daddy. Calling God "Abba" is like saying "Daddy." I also have no need to fear my Abba Father; He engenders trust and confidence just as  my new daddy did after Mom married him. But that's not all I receive from my Father. At some point I will know my new name. In fact, Revelation tells us that the Spirit will give a new name to him who overcomes (prevails), that it will be given to him written on a white stone, and that the receiver is the only one who knows it.
   What might my new name be? God tells me that I am his child, adopted into His family. Perhaps that new name is my adopted name and will reveal what having Christ's name has accomplished in my life. Maybe it will signify what I have become as a result of Christ living in me and the Holy Spirit doing His work. After all, I am "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works." (Ephesians 2:10) Whatever that name is, I am sure it will be perfect and fitting because my Father is choosing it.
     I know that having Daddy Harry as a father changed me for the better. He brought stability and safety into our lives, gave us a place of security and peace, and continued to love me as his own even after Mom bore his biological child, my sister. He showed me the kind of love a father should have for his daughter, never showing partiality, and he led me to the Lord by his witness and example.
      With Jesus as my Lord, I know that I am certainly not what I was without Him , but do I really know who I am in Him? Do we even have an inkling of what He can do and wants to do through us? We probably won't know until that moment the gift of the white stone is given. Oh, how I want to walk worthy of His name.
      Thank you my Abba, Daddy.

Internet sources used for this blog:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Song #2: Living My Name

    "A good name is to be more desired than great riches, favor is better than silver and gold." Proverbs 22:1 

     Grandpa Ki, my mother's dad, used to tell his children not to act in a way that would disgrace the family name. Their surname was a distinctive, German name, and everyone in the community knew whose kids they were when my uncles acted up. Word would get back to my grandparents, and they would then confront their boys with the report of their misconduct. What followed was more than a gentle discussion out behind the smokehouse.
     Similarly, my mother had a knack for knowing my wrongdoings. She used to tell me she had eyes in the back of her head or that a little birdy  had told her about my behavior. The severity of my offense was measured in the number of licks I received from her belt--quick and just punishment.
      Funny thing is my name was different from  my mom's because my parents were divorced, and Mom had remarried. She had a "good name", but I retained the name of my father who had a bad reputation for his misdeeds when drinking. When I blew it, people just stamped "ditto" on me --same name, same reputation. 
     Mom gave me "Judy" after Judy Canova, a singer, actress, and comedian from radio days.  My dad added "Carolyn", but, because he's been gone nearly 35 years, I can't ask him why he chose it.  I am glad, however, to be named "Judy Carolyn" because of  its meaning : "praise, song of joy". 
     I can't say that I've always lived up to the meaning of my name. In fact, in seasons of my life I felt more like its antithesis: "insult, silence, sorrow".  My misbehavior in those times not only disgraced my family name but  insulted  the name of Christ. I had taken on the name "Christian" when I accepted Him as my Savior. 
      Also, from a young age I carried a hidden sorrow in my soul that my childish mind didn't understand. Later on I realized it stemmed from  my parents' divorce and subsequent conflicts over child custody,  dad's alcoholism and abusive behavior,  and my molestation as a child. It was the loneliness of an only child combined with a hunger for love from a  father incapable of giving it. As an adult I added injury to insult through my own choices in trying to satisfy that longing. Though I was praised for my achievements and sang from as early as I can remember, my life was not a "praise song of joy".
     When my own marriage failed, I called myself  "failure", and it seemed the ditto label was branded on my forehead. Then, my son died by his own hand, and I entered a sorrow so deep I could no longer sing. My name had become a cruel joke, a description of something I would never be, someone I had no power to become. I even wrote in a journal and whispered in the recesses of my heart, "I will never be happy again."
     If my future depended on me, that's where I would be still--stuck with failure, insult, sorrow, defeat, and silence. But God had a different plan, and He delights in proving us wrong. He was just waiting for me to quit struggling on my own and give Him access to the dark rooms and secret places of my heart--waiting, not to punish me, but to bless me--to satisfy that father hunger that had gnawed at me all my life. Like Jacob I had wrestled with God in the night and demanded a blessing, but I had to let go and let Him do His work (without my help) to get it. 
     God asked Jacob to tell Him his name--"liar, deceiver, supplanter". Once Jacob admitted his name and thus his identity, God blessed him and gave him a new name--"Israel", which means "he persists with God." I also told God my names--all of them--those I inherited, the ones I earned, those I was called, and the ones I gave myself; and God gave me back the ones my parents intended for me--"praise song of joy". 
     The praise is all for Him, as He is the essence of my song and the source of my joy. He gave me a new husband and an unexpected blessing of a fourth child to add to my family. He restored the joy of my salvation (Psalm 51:12) and released the burden of past hurts and failures. He gave me freedom--to worship Him in complete abandon with arms lifted high and face toward Heaven , to testify of the healing and power He has brought to me and to my family--freedom to forgive, to love, to "persist with God", and to live out loud.
     I thank Him and give Him this song in the night.

    "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galations 4:28 


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Song #1: He Will Direct Your Path

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
     This scripture passage from Proverbs has guided me through some of my darkest nights of the soul. When I had pericarditis, it urged me, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." When I went through an unwanted divorce and later lost my first-born son to suicide, I desperately asked God to help me understand. The scripture spoke calmly, "Don't lean on your own understanding." I learned that, indeed, there are some things that we will not understand this side of Heaven and that I can trust God because He does have the understanding I lack. Then, when I was told that I had become legally blind and that my vision was deteriorating due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, the Word encouraged me "in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will Make your paths straight." God promises to take care of my pathway even when I can't see it!
     Just two little verses have had a huge impact on some terribly devastating events in my life. Those events, though still terrible,  are no longer devastating. God assures me through His Word that He has an eternal, objective perspective, that He wants me to trust Him even when I don't understand the inexplicable, and that He is worthy of my trust to guide me step by step, even when I don't see the way to go. He is honing and improving my spiritual sight as my physical sight is waning. I am reassured because "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path."(Psalm 119:105) This will continue to be my song in the night of failing vision.