Thursday, April 28, 2011

Do You See Grace Among You?

Last week I talked about the importance of music in my life. This week I want to continue on the same note, haha same NOTE , I’m so clever!

About 8 months ago I was introduced to a men’s Southern Gospel Trio. This trio is The Booth Brothers. The members include Ronnie Booth, Michael Booth and Jim Brady. I was extremely impressed with them from the first moment I heard them sing. The blend of their voices is impeccable, their harmony is so tight and their pitch is right on! It just amazed me. As I listened to them sing live, then listened to their CD I was shocked! This is one group that is better live than on CD! Then they spoke and I began to learn about their ministry! WOW! These 3 men again blew me away! Michael takes the time in every concert to present salvation. It doesn’t matter if they are in concert with other groups or by themselves, you know salvation will be presented. I find that so encouraging, because we should always be prepared to witness. We may think we are in a crowd of Christians, but we need to give God the chance to work in hearts. It is not our place to make that decision. Another thing I admire about the Booth Brothers is their commitment to other Christians. Michael usually does the preaching, but all of them have stories to tell and messages to present. So at any given time you will hear any one of them telling how God has worked in his life and encouraging us. I always walk away from their concerts knowing I have met with God.

Jim Brady does most of his story telling through song. Jim is a songwriter, and has written over 100 amazing songs. His songs have been recorded by several groups including, The Talley Trio, Legacy Five, Gold City, and of course, The Booth Brothers.

One of the first songs I ever heard The Booth Brothers perform was “I See Grace”, it was written by Jim. It made such an impact on me that when I started this blog I knew I HAD to share it with all of you! Y’all just won’t believe the ways God has worked in my life to bring things about. One of the coolest things is that Jim Brady has given me permission to print the words of that song here! Tears come to my eyes as I write this at how good God is! I am overwhelmed by the way God has worked in my life and through this blog. One of these days I should tell you all the things He has done in, through and with this blog. I just stand in awe of HIM! Anyway, below you will find “I See Grace” then you will find what the song means to me. 
Me and Michael Booth

Me and Ronnie Booth

Me and Jim Brady

I See Grace:

Here in these walls; here in these rows
There are those who regret the roads they once chose
More than the sorrow, more than the pain
There is joy for the way that
Through Christ they’ve been changed

There are lives freed from bondage of sins once concealed
There are bodies and minds, spirits now healed
Those who found freedom and shook off the chains
From the long years of guilt, anger, and shame

I see grace; I see grace
In every life; on every face
Of the faithful who gather each week in this place
I see grace

There are those in this life who’ve been dealt a poor hand
They’ve overcome and by God’s strength they stand
Those who have come through unbearable loss
Not defined by the past but defined by the Cross

I see grace; I see grace
In every life; on every face
Of the faithful who gather each week in this place
I see grace

Story after story, one common theme
God’s power and glory in those He’s redeemed
Such tender mercy time after time
So many ways in this story that’s mine

I see grace;
Grace; I see grace
In every life; on every face
Of the faithful who gather each week in this place
I see grace

The faithful who gather each week in this place
I see grace; I see grace

Written by Jim Brady, Barry Weeks, and Tony Wood/Brady House Publishing/BMI/New Spring/Row J, Seat 9 Songs/ASCAP/Building Bridge/BMI

As I have listened to this song, God has opened my eyes to His Grace in ways I never imagined. Everyday He is teaching me more and more about grace. As I learn I love sharing with you. I hope you get as much out of this as I have.

So Let’s look at “I See Grace” by Jim Brady.

Christians from all walks of life come together as a body to Worship the one true, sovereign God. Sometimes we think that the lives of the people sitting around us have been, and are going smoothly, with no problems, no trials. When in fact we just don’t know.

Some made choices before salvation that they simply regret, choices that sometimes cause them great heartache, but Christ changed them! We even make choices after salvation that we regret, but because of God’s Amazing Grace, we approach his throne and He forgives us!

Then you have those that things have happened to “those in this life who’ve been dealt a poor hand”. This is a really hard one for me. I don’t necessarily believe I’ve “been dealt a poor hand” God has given me a VERY GOOD and BLESSED life. However, He has allowed my family to go through some very difficult situations. Now I can say God’s grace brought us through them. I also believe He gave us these experiences to help others when they go through similar situations. Just as Jim writes we overcame and “by God’s strength” we stand!

In the next phrase the song talks about those that endure “unbearable loss”. That is something else my family definitely knows about, but the next phrase gives us the ONLY comfort that those with this kind of loss can be comforted with, “Not defined by the past but defined by the Cross”. Let me tell you just a little about the loss we have experience so you can understand. Between November 1983 and January 1985, my mom’s mom, my cousin who was 22 and had cystic fibrosis and my mom’s dad all went to be with Jesus. Then in 1997, after a long bout with Alzheimer’s Cecil’s grandpa went to be with the Lord. My dad’s mom passed away in 1999, she had also dealt with Alzheimer’s. Knowing the 2 of them have clear minds is so comforting! Then in June of 2000 my sister’s husband was diagnosed with Leukemia. I could go into great detail but I won’t. Let me just say the next 10 months were extremely difficult and a rollercoaster of emotions. In April of 2001 he went to be with Jesus. He was 33. By the end of 2001 we had also lost my other cousin who had cystic fibrosis, she was 35, and then Cecil’s grandma. Then 2 and a half years ago as quite a shock to the whole family my daddy met Jesus in heaven on a Sunday afternoon the day before his 64th birthday. Now you want to talk about an unbearable loss. For me other than losing a spouse or child, losing a parent is about as unbearable as it gets! I miss my daddy EVERY day! BUT because of the CROSS Jesus gives me comfort EVERY time I feel that overwhelming sadness and loss. That is His grace!

I know if we all sat down together we could share one thing after another where God has pulled us through, when it didn’t seem like there was any hope. The thing we all have in common is that when we rely on God for our strength, our needs to be met, He WILL provide! In the bridge, Jim writes about 2 attributes of God that seem to be contradictory, but as Christians we understand how they work together. “God’s power and glory in those He’s redeemed, Such tender mercy time after time”, I love the picture of God working powerfully in my life yet He does it with tender mercy. Let me give you an example of this. In October 2000 the doctors found a large mass on one of my ovaries. They thought it was probably benign but they couldn’t be sure until they did surgery and because of the size of the tumor they had to actually open my abdomen up. This would mean 6 weeks of recovery. This was a very scary time for my family and me. We placed everything in God’s hands and I went in to surgery. As they rolled me into my room, I could hear Cecil on the phone with his mom saying, “there was no cancer”. To me that is God’s power and His mercy at work all at the same time.

In the last phrase of the song, before the chorus, the song pulls all of us back together again. “So many ways in this story that’s mine”, even when our stories are different, we can relate. The things I go through may not be as traumatic as yours, but God give us all the grace we need when we need it.
The next time you are at church or some other large gathering of believers, look around. Do you see grace? Do you see people whose lives have been touch by the grace of God for salvation? Have these people been through trials and tough times, just like you, yet God has given them His grace to live life on this earth?

2 Corinthians 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (KJV)

Living in Grace

Please check out the links to the Booth Brothers website and Jim and Melissa Brady's website.They are to the left. On the Booth Brothers website you can hear a clip of  "I See Grace" on the Declaration CD. Please listen to that and other song clips on both sites!
If you get the chance, you will want to see the Booth Brothers or Jim and Melissa or Melissa Brady in concert. Check out there concert schedules. I promise you will LOVE IT!!!
Here is a chance to go see Melissa Brady in concert! I know she will be a blessing!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Music Means to Me

As you can tell from the title of my blog, “Angie's Notes of Grace, I LOVE music!!! At one time in my life I aspired to a career in music, but that was not what God had planned for me. That doesn’t mean He hasn’t used music in a dramatic way in my life. Through my family and education I have been exposed to a variety of genres of music and was taught from a young age how to appreciate them. At any given time you can find me listening to, watching videos of, or attending concerts of all kinds. I simply love music!
So don’t be surprised if you find me listening to Carrie Underwoood(Country), then at a Booth Brothers(Southern Gospel) concert, then listening to Toby Mac(Contemporary Christian), then listening to The Black Eyed Peas(Rock), then at a Francesca Battiselli(Contemporary Christian) concert, all in the same week. You might even catch me listening to or watching some classical music along the way.    

Some of you may not agree with me, but I believe God gave us music for many purposes: entertainment, to express our emotions, to worship Him, to excite us, or to calm us. Remember I am only talking about music, not the words, yet. Think about what music, just music, the sound of instruments, does for you. It makes me smile just thinking about it!

Lyrics give the writer the opportunity to tell us something. They allow the writer to tell a story, express a feeling, or state facts, whatever the writer chooses to do. Usually it is difficult to know what the composer is trying to get across without lyrics. Once Lyrics are added the song immediately has meaning! Now it can truly speak to us!

Once the music and lyrics are combined you get the whole story! As the writer works on a song he may use certain techniques to enhance it, make it more interesting or get your attention. He may place high notes with important words, dissonance (clashing notes) with sad or discouraging phrases, or it might be softer or louder at a special place. Next time you listen to your favorite song, see if you hear any of those things.

A song can be meaningful no matter the genre. There happen to be several songs that are very special to me and they are not Christian songs. A few of those are: “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, “Second Chance” by Shinedown, “Live Like We’re Dying” by Kris Allen, “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts. Check these out, if you dare.
However, Christian songs are on a completely other level. When someone writes a song about Jesus or the Christian faith hopefully it has been done with God’s guidance and prayer. If that is the case, God has the opportunity to teach me something or speak to me through that song. If my heart is open and I am listening God can now step in and touch my heart and spirit and possibly change my life! That is what has been happening to me over the past few months.

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (ESV)
Colossians 3:16
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (ESV)

Last August my mom and I traveled to Lebanon, MO for 4 nights of Southern Gospel concerts. Ok, let me explain, at that time I was NOT a fan of Southern Gospel music, but because of my upbringing and my love of music I CAN and WILL enjoy ANY type of music like I said earlier! Believe it or not, I had a GREAT time! On top of that God spoke to me in ways He had not been able to in months. I left their revived, and with a new favorite group! That group is the Booth Brothers. You will find a link to their website here. Check them out! Next week you will find out more about them!!!

Living in Grace

Friday, April 15, 2011

Family Legacy

Family. As soon as you read that word, a specific picture entered your mind.
Along with it probably came some emotions. You may have had good, warm, happy feelings, or you may have had negative, unhappy feelings. Some of us are blessed to have come from Christian homes, where we were raised in church. We were taught about Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross for us basically from the time we were born. Others may not have been so fortunate and have backgrounds of abuse or abandonment or other unhappy situations.

This past weekend we traveled to Oklahoma for a family reunion. This reunion was for my husband’s family. Ok, stay with me here. This was the Coker Family reunion. My husband, Cecil is one of 5 children. His mother is Thelma. Thelma is one of 9 children. Those 9 children were born to Melton and Dora Coker (Melton, Dora and their oldest child Juanita have all gone to heaven). So this reunion was for the 8 children and all of their offspring and families. I honestly do not know how many people were at the reunion. I do remember that when each Grandpa and Grandma Coker died the number of grandchildren and great grandchildren combine was well in to triple digits.

Now a little background, I am the oldest of 3 children, each of my parents only had 1 brother. So I come from a small family. Let me tell you, when we first started dating, Cecil’s family scared me to death! One of the first things we did as a “couple” was attend one of these reunions. I was 15! Each of Thelma’s siblings tried to get me to remember their names. From that point on I was supposed to know who everybody was. One time many years later I called one uncle by the other uncle’s name. I don’t think I will EVER live that down!

Well the Coker clan may like to tease and have fun together, but one thing I know for sure is they were raised by parents that LOVED JESUS and taught their children about Him! They also took their kids to church and showed them that being a Christian isn’t just for Sunday. To this day that is a consistent theme of this family. I love knowing where my husband came from and the fact that my children can go to these reunions and see, even today that Melton and Dora Coker are still having a Godly influence on our lives.

Isaiah 55:11
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

The next time you are teaching your children, or any child in your life, a Godly principle, Bible story or about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, remember, you have NO idea how far reaching your influence may be!!! On the other hand don’t get discouraged if you feel like your words are falling on deaf ears! God word with not return “empty”. It will accomplish the purpose he intended for it! Thank you dear Lord!!! What a mighty God we serve!!!

Living in Grace

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Comfort-Part 2

God not only can comfort us in our grief, but He can also be the comfort for us at any time we need someone to walk beside us. There are many times we simply need someone by our side to be our helper in life. That is exactly what the Holy Spirit is there to do. 

John 14:16-18And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (KJV)

In these verses Jesus is telling his disciples that after He ascends to heaven, God is going to send the Holy Spirit, to those who are saved, to comfort us. My understanding is that the Greek word for comforter in verse 16 is paraclete’ (para klee tay). The meaning of this word is comforter, helper, and advocate. When I was in Bible college, my professor, Dr. Raleigh Campbell, gave us this definition of paraclete’ - “one who walks beside”. Don’t you love that? Yes, the Holy Spirit is our comforter, helper and advocate, but as all those things, He walks beside us! I love that! Knowing He is right there walking beside me to comfort me! WOW!

So I can be assured everyday, in every circumstance I go through, I have the Holy Spirit walking beside me for the specific purpose of comforting me along the way! Then I read on in those verses and realize I am blessed beyond measure. Not everyone has the Holy Spirit as their comforter. Only those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior will have Him as our comforter. Verse 17 states “whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you.” Until I accept Jesus as my personal Savior I don’t “know” him and he doesn’t “dwell” in me.

Can you imagine facing even one day without the comfort and security of the Holy Spirit? As I think about it, it simply boggles my mind to even imagine a life without Jesus. I feel such sweet comfort, peace and security knowing that my circumstance, my surroundings, even my future are not left to chance, but are in the hands of THE ALMIGHTY, ALL POWERFUL, and ALL KNOWING GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!!!

Living in Grace