You Are Beautiful

You Are Beautiful

You Are Beautiful

I wrote this song after my last visit to San Francisco.  During that visit, I was reminded how easy it is to marginalize people.  We hear about this every day in the news and on social media.  But we don’t really talk about some of the most marginalized – those “dirty, scary people on that block you probably don’t want to walk down”….

My wife and I stayed on “that block” while in San Francisco, and we met some really sweet people.  We also ran into some people who are – probably insane.  The level of what seems to be insanity among the population we were among is more than I’d seen anywhere else (granted, I haven’t been everywhere – maybe this is more common?…).  We were really overwhelmed by this darkness.  I mean how do you reach someone who is incapable of being reached?  God have mercy…

We did run into a few people though who were wonderful and gracious enough to have chats with us.  Some were so pleased we would spend time with them, or even ask their name.  Some just wanted money for a fix.  Some were sleeping all day – maybe because it’s safer to sleep during the day?  I mean, that’s what I would do, if I lived on the streets – so we just left food at their feet.

Each story is heartbreaking, yet sweet.  These are PEOPLE!  With stories, and life, and dreams.  And value.  Never let someone tell you we as humans are insignificant.  As if it’s arrogant to put a value on a human (yes I heard this too, while staying in SF, at the conference I was at.  A very very intelligent man was spouting this lie to an audience who eat it up like steak…).  We as people ARE valued and valuable, to the One who created us.  This is not arrogant, because it speaks to HIS glory, not ours.

I wrote this song, after the visit.  For Anna, who lit up with the most beautiful smile, when we asked her what her name was.  For Doris, who could not see past her need for the next fix, even at the expense of the babies in her womb…  For Karen, who was actually the first person I approached, ten years ago.  I wonder what she’s up to today…

For Heather, who just needed a few more bucks to make rent, so she would not be thrown out on the street again.  For the Vietnam vet, who felt like he had no more use.  For the men piled on each other for warmth, as they slept in a forgotten alley…

I’m giving the song away.  But if anyone streams or downloads it, I’ll donate to a local Minneapolis organization called In Love Word and Deed.  They go out weekly and bring meals to people in Minneapolis.  They pray over and with, share love and good news with, get to know, cry over and with, these wonderful people.  They are wonderful people.  If you see fit, please consider helping them out.

And if you would, prayerfully consider, how your smile, your “hello”, your handshake or hug, might just show someone they matter.  Because they do.  And so do you…

You Are Beautiful

You are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Anna, such a beautiful smile
Such a beautiful name
And I call you mine
I’ve called you by name into My grace
My mercy is yours for the taking

Dear child, don’t you know yet?
Dear one, haven’t you heard

That you are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Doris, you don’t need that hit…
You don’t need that shame…
Cause you are My gift
I give you Myself
And that’s enough
If only you’d know this…

Dear child with a child of your own
Dear one, don’t let go…

Cause you are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

Dear Karen
Pure in heart
You think no one sees you…
But I do…
your name’s not forgotten
It’s on my book of life
And today you will hear me in paradise, say

You are beautiful
You’re made perfectly
You are beautiful
You’re made in the image of Me

You Are Beautiful

 

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Your Favor Rests Upon Me…

Future-2-If I Could Leave This Place

Your Favor

I finished my record.  I was done.  We headed to Seattle, for our daughter’s wedding.  She married the love of her life.  It was wonderful!

Do I use the word “wonderful” too much?

While there, my wife, who was doing the flowers for the wedding, had to pick up all the flowers, greens, etc. for the wedding.  While checking in to our Air BnB, she thought, “Maybe we can see if we can find some more greens to go with the flowers.”  I didn’t know the green parts weren’t part of the flowers.  Greens and flowers are – not…  the same thing…

Anyway, there were wooded walking paths all around our neighborhood.  So – maybe?

So while putting things away, we could hear a chainsaw, or some sort of gas-powered tool.  We head out on our walk – and along the walk path are greens – CUT DOWN.  EVERYWHERE.  God literally placed all the greens we could need, at our feet!

I mean – ALL OF THEM.  P picked up more than she needed, and left a ton more than that on the trail!  Here is one pic, so you can see what I’m talking about.
IMG_2931

And that is just part of what my wife pulled together, from what was left for us.

God is so good…  I don’t typically think of things like this, or get caught up in the fascination of things like this.  But God – just TOOK CARE OF IT for us.  Wow…

Your favor, Lord, rests upon us…

So we’re heading to the store, to pick up flowers.  And we have to potentially cancel the order for greens, because we have enough now.  As we start to feel a little guilty, my wife gets a voicemail – no phone ring, just a voicemail.  It happens, we’ve all had it happen.

“Um – Mrs. Haj-nas-eee-wic – Haj-nas-erts – um, we got your roses, but – so sorry…  We couldn’t get any of the greens.  So sorry….”

!!!!!

God takes care of us.  Lord, your favor rests upon us…

I did not intend to write a song for Stella and Cody.  I mean – I DID.  But when my original idea went somewhere else, I did not consider writing another song.  I thought I was done.  I did not intend to write a worship song – when I couldn’t come up with anything, I thought I was done.

Then this…

I wrote most of it in Seattle, came home and wrote the verses.  I recorded myself plunking piano awkwardly, which fits the song.  This is probably my favorite song.  Because it reminds me of that beautiful day.  Of the way God’s favor was and is on Cody and Stella.  Of how God’s favor is on us…

God is so good….

Your Favor
Though I see through darkened glass
I will trust in You
Though I can’t forget my past
I will dwell on You
It seems the days turn into years
As Years go by as days
And as I rejoice through my tears
I delight in all Your ways

And as I stumble awkwardly
Through life
Toward You…
You give my greatest friend to me…
Someone who mirrors You

Your favor rests upon me…

Song written:  August 9, 14, 2017
Song recorded:  August 14, 2017
Song first released:  August 15, 2017

Your Favor

You can pre-order my new record here!  If you pre-order today, you’ll get EVERY song on it today!  Almost a week before everyone else!  🙂

3,000…

3,000…

That is the reported number of how many babies are aborted every day…

3,000 human beings, eliminated, for various reasons…

And who am I to argue?  I mean – I’m a man, I shouldn’t be talking about women’s rights to abortion (Unless of course I support that right).

If that baby in the womb is not a human being, I would agree with that statement completely.  If that baby is just a growth, like a finger nail or a tumor, then yes, it is part of the woman’s body, and it is her choice whether to carry that growth to birth.

But really, are we still arguing that is the case?  Why?  Why is this subject SO politicized?  Why is abortion seemingly celebrated?  (Google “Shout Your Abortion”, and you will find several people arguing for the right to not only HAVE an abortion, but to celebrate it or at least be supported in this decision – as if it is good…

Again, if that child is not a human being, then I would wholeheartedly agree.

DNA at conception.  Unique DNA, that shows this child is human.  We’re not talking about DNA that mutates into human, from something else – the same DNA that child would have at birth, as they grow, into adulthood.

A heartbeat in 19 days.

We can SEE the child forming in the womb, thanks to technology we have today!  It’s pretty amazing, and any expected parent is beaming as they show their pictures and videos of their child.

THEIR.  CHILD.

Because they chose?  And that’s it?  If I was trying to have a kid, or decided to keep my kid, then it’s human.  But if I don’t want him or her – it’s just a thing?  A growth?  We don’t really believe that, do we?

I wrote this song from the perspective of the child in the womb.  A child that knows he or she is going to be killed.  From the perspective of a mother or father who lives with the haunting knowledge of a decision they can never take back.  I do realize that doesn’t fit the description for everyone who chose to have an abortion.  But it does for many.  There was a song written about it, from the father’s perspective, in the 90’s.  It was very popular, and very sad.  There are studies that show statistics around how a mother is affected after she has an abortion.  Again – I know that doesn’t fit everyone.  You are not a statistic.  But it certainly affects many.

So – I am sharing this song, at no cost to you (Other than your time).  However, I will be giving $5 for every download or stream of the song from Bandcamp, to an organization called “New Life Family Services”, specifically for a program they have called “Conquerors”.  This program is designed to minister to mothers who have had abortions, and are struggling or hurting.  If that is you, you are not alone…

You can read about them here and here.

If you want to help, great!  You can give directly from their website, or pay for the song if you so choose.

I’m NOT intending to raise money or awareness to further legislate.  We have enough of that.  I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t fight for that – I just feel that is not my job.  I want to reach your heart.  I want to talk about this.  Of course I want to change your mind on this subject.  As passionate as you are about what you have been conditioned to believe about this being a women’s right issue – I am about you knowing what you already know.

  • You are a human being with intrinsic value
  • Your value comes from the fact that you are created in God’s image
  • You are valued ultimately by God Himself – in a way nobody, including yourself, could fully comprehend
  • This is the same for your, eternally (“I have loved you with an everlasting love” – Jeremiah 31:3)
  • This was the same for you, when you were a baby in the womb…

So I again open this up for discussion.  And I pray that you accept the truth.

3,000, every day…

I love you…

T.

3,000…

 

Not My President?

Differing weights and differing measures—
    the Lord detests them both.
(Proverbs 20:10)

Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
    Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.

The Lord detests differing weights,
    and dishonest scales do not please him.
(Proverbs 20:22-23)

So, as far as I can tell, it’s now official.  Donald Trump is our next president.  I know there has been much ado over whether or not the electoral college would “vote their conscience”, and not for Trump.  I’m not sure, has that ever been encouraged to this degree in previous elections?  Maybe?  I’ve never paid attention.  In fact, I didn’t pay it much attention this time either – just that there have been so many postings, videos, etc.

People have attacked Trump, Trump voters, Trump supporters, Never-Trumpers, Anti-Trumpers, Never-Ever-Anti-Anti-Trumpers.  Pretty much EVERYONE has been vilified, threatened, harassed – some even harmed, due to the results of this election.  I had a dear friend seek out his Facebook “friends”, looking for Trump voters or supporters, and systematically unfriending each one. And then call out for others, who may be hiding.

And – even encourage them to take their own lives…

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
(Matthew 7:1-2)

For some, these verses I post may mean nothing.  I get that.  But they do mean everything to me.  And when I read the verses in Proverbs 20, I think about what Jesus said about judging others, as referenced in Matthew 7.  See, it’s very, very easy for us as humans to hold others to a standard we don’t want to hold ourselves to.  And before you jump to, “Oh, I don’t do that!”, please look at your heart with sober judgement.  Are you being honest?

Donald Trump is my next president.  Because I’m an American citizen.  He wasn’t my choice.  I don’t like him, or at least what I’ve seen of him.  I’m saddened by his behavior – past and present.  I’m completely flabbergasted that he thinks tweeting relentlessly about things that – just shouldn’t be said by a president, or – ANYONE really –  in public for the world to digest – is acceptable, presidential behavior.

Please don’t get me wrong – he has EVERY right to tweet away, to his hearts content.  As do we all.  But it’s just – childish…  I wish he would stop…

But he’s my next president.

And guess what?  If you are an American citizen, he’s yours too.

And further – I think he’s the president we ALL wanted.  Stop and think about that for a minute.  Even if we didn’t want Trump in office – we wanted this…  Oh, we wanted this… On his Twitter activity alone, he’s a perfect reflection of what we have become as a social media society.

Don’t agree?

Look at your social media feeds.  You all see it, if you haven’t blocked everyone you disagree with, or hidden all but pictures of cute grandkids and awesome recipes.  And even if you have blocked everyone you disagree with – read closely the language used by those you DO agree with.  Is IT “presidential”?  Yes, I know, you’re not the president-elect, nor are your friends.  But most of you who might read this ARE adults.  Is it becoming of you, or whomever may have posted it?  Does it foster conversation, discussion, even debate?  Or does it build walls and shut all communication down?  Does it foster love, or hate?  Would you say it to someone’s face, without a care as to how they might be hurt or offended?

The news does the same thing – no matter where you get your news.  Pick your poison.  We might get a nice feel-good piece on occasion.  But much of it is drama, because drama sells.  It stirs us up.  And we buy more and more, further feeding the beast inside us that so wants to hate…

Yes, there is a lot of bad going on in the world.  Yes, we should stand up for those who are oppressed.  Yes, we should absolutely be saddened, shocked, appalled, at what has happened in Aleppo, at Standing Rock, with the recent shooting of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, the bombings this year in France and Orlando and Istanbul, and elsewhere, the taking of innocent lives – whether by police officers, private citizens, mothers, fathers, sons or daughters.  We should be appalled.

But are we becoming people who have forgotten how to forgive?  Have we let fear and anxiety and hatred of our perceived enemy overcome us, to the point where we cannot love?  Someone I know made these cool shirts with the slogan, “Love trumps fear”.  And it does!  But are you letting it?

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.
(1 John 4:18)

FEAR – is what is making so many lash out against the election, against Trump, against those who may support him.  FEAR – is what is making so many feel the need to DEFEND Trump and call those who have expressed their disdain for him less than honorable names.  FEAR – is what seemed to enable some to finally feel “empowered” to do some very deplorable things to Muslims, gays, blacks, hispanics, women, and anyone else I may have forgotten to mention, in the name of our next president.  FEAR – is what leads so many of us to respond almost in kind, attacking our next president for not saying anything about all this, or if he does he “doesn’t really mean it”.  FEAR – is what leads us to see all the ugly going on and assume that is what the next four years will be like.  And if we allow our fear to rule – that IS what the next four years will be like…

We don’t have to fear Trump.  Even IF he were as completely horrible as he’s been made out to be in news and social media (and as much as I dislike him, I do not think that’s even remotely the case), we don’t have to fear him.  Love truly does trump fear.  And whether you believe in an all-powerful mighty, just, loving God or not – you were created in His image.  Which means you have in you a desire to love and be loved.

Will you feed the desire to love and be loved in you?  Or will you feed the beast that fears and hates?

I have another dear friend, whom I recall some years ago, calling out the “anti-Bush” people, who would not acknowledge him as president, or give him any sort of respect that our president should receive – only to be the one treating President Obama with the very same disrespect…

Some might jump to the conclusion my friend was a racist.  But he wasn’t a racist.  He was just a hypocrite.  As am I sometimes.  As are we all…  But we don’t have to stay that way.  We do not…

President-elect Trump is not the president I wanted.  But come January, he will be my president.  And yours as well.

Differing weights and differing measures—
    the Lord detests them both.
(Proverbs 20:10)

The Gospel In Good Will Hunting

I like to watch movies, and find the Gospel in it.  In the movie Good Will Hunting, there is a scene, where Sean Maquire (Robin Williams) is going over Will’s file with him.  His past.  It leads into Sean telling Will, over and over, “It’s not your fault….”.  To which Will responds with:

“I know”

Then, sort of laughing uncomfortably, “I know”

Then, a bit more stern, but that awkward Matt Damon grin, “Yeah, I KNOW”

Then, “Don’t fuck with me….”  (Forgive me, I thought about putting stars in the place of letters.  But I did not, because this best reflects our heart in this moment of the Gospel narrative – Read Romans 5:8)

Then, sobbing, breaking down…

Imagine the role of Sean being Christ, and Will being you, or me.  And Jesus goes over our “file”, our past, with us.  He can even say, yes, he’s been through what we have. He was tempted in every way, though He did not sin.  He was scorned, mocked, beaten, hated, spit upon, killed.  In every way, He felt what we did, and I’d argue so much more.  Satan did to Him everything every single one of us has had done to us, or – done to another…

But instead of saying, “It’s not your fault”, He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.

And we say, “I know”.

And He says, “No, you don’t understand.  I LOVE YOU.  I have ALWAYS LOVED YOU.  And my kindness is what is drawing you here, even though you want to run.”

And we say, “Yeah – I know”, with that same Matt Damon awkward grin.  We look around the room, because we don’t want to look Him in the eyes.  It’s weird, uncomfortable.  We can see all our sin, all our shame, all our failures, all our pain, as it flashes before us, so rapidly, yet seemingly in slow motion…

But we aren’t quite there yet, because we don’t want to look Him in the eyes.  We fear what we will see, but we cannot possibly yet understand that if we would only look Him in the eyes, we’d see HIS GLORY, and no longer see our junk – good OR bad.  “Yeah – I know, now leave it be, will you!”

“No – look at me, Ted.  I LOVE YOU.  I came for you.  I died for you.  I have loved you with an everlasting love…”

“Don’t fuck with me Jesus….”

And we begin to weep…  We can’t control it, though we want to “be strong”.  We don’t want to show Him any sense of feeling…
“I Love you…”

And we begin to crumble….

And we break down.  The weight has been so unbearable for so long.  Yet we’re told by the world, by religion, by self-help books, by media, we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, clean up our act, or at least LOOK as if we have.  It’s on us, it always has been.  And we’ve done such a good job thus far in hiding all our crap, our fear, our pain, from the word.  “And now You, Jesus, want to expose that?  How DARE YOU!”

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness…”

And it’s over.  We can’t take it anymore.  We give up.  And we finally look Jesus in His eyes.  We FINALLY see that He MEANS IT.  The God of the universe, truly loves – me?  How can it be?  Yet He does.  Now.  As I am…

This moment, is when we reflect Christ best. This moment, when we accept Him as Lord.  As Savior.  As lover of our soul.  This moment, when we finally believe that His redemptive plan for us was ALWAYS His plan.  This moment, when we don’t even remember our own junk – good OR bad.  When all we see is – Him…

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”

Miracles…

Last week I was honored to attend my first graduation ceremony through the IFI program at Lino Lakes Correctional Facility.  I’ve been serving in some capacity there for a few years.  The IFI (Innerchange Freedom Initiative) is an affiliate of Prison Fellowship, designed to help inmates who are seeking a change, through the power and love of Christ.  It is voluntary, open to anyone who is interested.  Just as the Gospel is.

I have to tell you, seeing a room full of men singing praises to God, who a year or so earlier would never have dreamed of using the word “god” in any other way than a cuss word, is – well, a MIRACLE.  I’ve been blessed to witness this multiple times.  God is so good…

Last week, I got to hear a story of a young man who is now on fire for the Lord.  He has around 90 days left in his stay, then physical freedom.  He also has COMPLETE freedom, in Christ.

This young man lived a very rough life.  He did not grow up in a church family, or a religious family.   His “religion” was drugs and violence.  His mom was an addict, his father a hostile, violent man – and that was when he was around.

This young man first smoked crack at 10 years old.  TEN YEARS OLD!  Drugs and violence were all he knew.  His entire family was addicted to drugs and/or alcohol.  His mother sold her body to support her habit – and he had to get into selling drugs to try and support his.

He entered into prison at seventeen…

I did not catch how old he is now, or I cannot recall (I’m getting old…).  But he’s spent some time in prison.  A year ago, he got the opportunity to enter the IFI program.  He was an unbeliever, and honestly thought believers were “foolish”, “naive”, “crazy”.  But he saw this as an opportunity to get into medium security.  So he took it.

He described it this way:

  • The first three months we just went with the program, so he could come to and stay at Lino Lakes
  • The next thee months he thought, “I should try and apply what the Bible says to my life, so I can better it”.  That pretty much describes his relationship with God at the time.  Religious, trying to “gain favor”, or “improve self”
  • But around six months in – Jesus met him face to face.  This young man fell in love with his Lord and Savior.  He never looked back…
  • Over the course of six months, members of his family – including his mother – have accepted Christ, and through their salvation have themselves become sober!  A handful of miracles, all because Jesus met this young man in prison!  Woah…

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20)

And this was just one man’s story!

I left Lino Lakes that night last week, overjoyed, thrilled, excited, that I got to hear of and witness so many lives transformed.  Not just the men  – but their families as well!  You want to see a miracle?  Go talk to one of these young men, you will see one with your own eyes.

God is so good….

The Cowardly Lion, and Grace…

A little over a year ago, when the mission team I was part of met in preparation for our trip to the Dominican Republic, the ice-breaker question was, “Who is your favorite super hero”.  Super heroes are the rage these days.

When it came to me, I said “The Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz”.  Partly, because everyone took the cool ones like Batman or “Dad”, before I got to answer.  Partly because I thought it would be funny or cute, and get a reaction (I often go for stupid joke mode).  But mainly because – well, he was a complete COWARD, who in the end set aside his cowardice for the good of others.  There is something really noble about setting ones deeply rooted fears aside, to help another.  Dare I compare the lion in the forest, to the Lion in the garden of Gethsemane?

So – my lovely wife watched this movie with me the other night, because I LOVE it, and she LOVES me.  The scene that struck me this go-round was when the lion is bullying the tin man and the scarecrow.  He moves on to Toto, which lands him a smack on the nose by Dorothy, who then lays into him for his bullying.  In tears, he then goes on to explain what a coward he is.  Humility…

The next thing you know, he’s invited to come along to see the wizard, because maybe the wizard will give him courage!

DID YOU GET THAT?  This bully, who was a complete d-bag just a minute ago, is WELCOMED!  Love…  Grace…  Love covers a multitude of sins…

We could learn a lot from this band of misfits, in this day of social media villian making.

Cheers!