Gethsemane: Original Choir Piece

GethsemaneIn my Gethsemane my poor voice I gently raised,
For the burden placed on me, I have also been amazed
Oh Jesus, my Jesus

That reach was infinite, every soul in space and time,
It was also intimate, filling me with grace sublime
Oh Jesus, my Jesus

Gethsemane,
Gethsemane,
The garden where the Savior paid the price for me.
When His soul was made an offering for sin,
He saw His seed,
Who would that be?
Did He see me?

I’ve tried to change my heart, time and time and time again,
But when I found his love, I found strength that would sustain.
Oh Jesus, my Jesus

He sets my spirit free to become one of His own.
He is making me to be more than I could do alone.
Oh Jesus, my Jesus

Gethsemane,
Gethsemane,
The garden where the Savior paid the price for me.
When His soul was made an offering for sin,
He saw His seed,
Who would that be?
Did He see me?

The sheet music and piano solo of this piece are available on my website.

How to Pray Sincerely when You REALLY Don’t Feel Like It

Image by More Good Foundation on flickr

The scriptures talk a lot about keeping prayer sincere – about praying with all your heart, with real intent, and that we should pray fervently every day. We know that an insincere prayer is not as meaningful or as beneficial as the heartfelt, faith-filled prayer.

So what do you do when it’s time for evening prayers, and you’re just not feeling into it. Of course it might help to just start praying, and see if you start feeling better about it, but if you’re like me, sometimes it’s hard to be “fervent” when you’re exhausted or in a bad mood. What do you do then? How can you pray sincerely, or with real intent, if you’re just not feeling it?

Our Heavenly Father is a person. He’s human – albeit a perfect, all-powerful, omniscient human, but he’s a human being. He knows that we will not constantly have a burning desire to be constantly serving and demonstrating love. But He does want us to talk with Him, openly and honestly. Besides, the commandment is not, “Feel really spiritual inside so you can pray with real intent of heart.” The commandment is, “Pray with real intent of heart.”

If you can’t pray with all your heart because your heart doesn’t feel like praying, tell your Heavenly Father something like, “Father, I know I need to pray with all of my heart, and I know I need greater motivation than I do so I can do what’s required of me, but I’m not feeling it right now. Please bless me with that motivation. Please bless me with righteous desires. I don’t feel it, Father, please, help me to feel gratitude, love, and whatever feelings are necessary for my prayers to be truly sincere. Help me know what I need to do to have the motivation and love to fulfill my assignments in a way that is beyond just going through the motions. And if not, please bless me with the character to do what I’m supposed to anyway.”

Fish Philosophy

Imagine you are a fish in a pond.

While in school, your teacher tries to convince you that it is impossible to see through water.  Of course this seems ridiculous to you at first, but then he stirs up the mud at the bottom of the pond.  Soon the entire pond is completely clouded.  You cannot even see the fish around you or the teacher.  “See?”  Your teacher says, “you are in water and you cannot see.  Now you know that it is impossible to see through water.”

Some of you and your classmates recognize that it is not water that is blocking your vision, but the mud that your teacher spread in front of you that makes it impossible to see.  You recognize that when the mud settles, you will again be able to see again like normal, because the mud and water will again be separated.

But some of the fish begin to feel confused and lost.  In panic, they turn to the teacher for help.  The teacher replies, “The only safe place is the bottom of the pond.  At least there, you can feel something beneath you.”  They follow, because they don’t know what else to do.

As the mud settles, they are buried in the mud.  Their “new perception” that mud is the same as water is therefore confirmed in their minds, and they remain in the much ever after.

Though unhappy in their new state, they pride themselves on their new understanding, wondering how they could have ever been deluded into thinking that what they once experienced was sight.  They scoff at the fish above, swimming happily about the pond.  They mock them, telling them that their childish belief in “Clear” water is just a tradition that their parents convinced them of.  They say, “Yeah, we once thought as you do, but now we see what water really is.  Sight is an illusion.  You cannot trust your senses.  The only safe place is the bottom of the pond.”

The wise know the difference between the mud and the water.

Whatsoever you shall ask the Father… it shall be granted you

There are few messages repeated as frequently in the scriptures as this; ask and ye shall receive. But have you ever noticed how often this similar message is written in the scriptures – “Whatsoever you shall ask the Father… it shall be granted you”?

It’s in there a TON. So how exactly does it work? Do we just ask? You might say, “What’s the catch?”

Well, there’s no catch. The scriptures make that clear. But there are conditions, or qualifiers that must be in place for the promise to be fulfilled. What are those qualifiers?

A few years ago I compiled a list of all the scriptures I could find that carried this message, with all the qualifying statements. In other words, if the verse said, “whatsoever ye ask in faith, ye shall receive,” then I would write down, “in faith,” and count how many other scriptures listed faith as a qualifier for the promise.

In the end, I came up with a list of all the qualifiers I could find, and this was the result:

They are listed in order of their frequency.

7 Times (meaning there are 7 different scripture verses that list this as a qualifier)

Ask in the name of Christ

Believing that ye shall receive

6 Times

In faith

3 Times

Doubting nothing

2 Times

If thou wilt turn unto me

Which is right

Hearken unto my voice

Believe

Repent of all thy transgressions

Be baptized

Ask not amiss

Ask according to the will of God

Ask in the Spirit

1 Time

Believe in Christ

Which is good

Being united in prayer according to my command

If ye are purified and cleansed from all sin

In prayer

Know good and evil

Not harden your hearts

With diligence in keeping my commandments

It shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you

Be thou humble

Now I can’t say that the importance of each qualifier is based on how many times it’s written in the scriptures. I don’t know if that’s the case or not. But the things that are repeated over and over in scripture aught to get our attention. Things like believing that He really will answer, asking in the name of Jesus Christ (we sometimes underestimate the power in that), and asking in real faith. Sometimes it’s that last one that throws people, so they think they don’t qualify for the promise. But remember faith is strengthened as it is exercised in righteousness.


My Suffering Vs. Your Suffering

A couple nights ago, Jenni was showing me a blog that’s kept by a mother who had a very recent miscarriage. Reading a little of that made me think a little about our own situation. We’ve never had a miscarriage. We’ve never lost a child. We’ve never had any close calls in that regard, and we’ve never had any major health issues with our kids. It’s a little odd, really.

We’re so blessed, and I’m so grateful for what the Lord has done for us, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. But it does feel a little hollow to read others experiences, or hear them talk about their own losses – and sometimes they are serious, serious losses. How do we comfort someone who can’t have children? How can we offer real understanding to someone who lost a close family member, or has a never-ending flow of surgeries and medical bills?

And what do they think of us? Are they offended if we try to offer assistance? Are they subconsciously bitter for not having what we have been so bounteously blessed with?
I suppose a few might be, but I doubt most of them are so offended. But it does leave me thinking. I have never been one to say, “Seeing their circumstances makes me count my blessings for not being in that situation.” Something has always bothered me about that, and until recently, I haven’t been able to put my finger on what exactly it is.

I was listening to an interview with a guy named Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms or legs. Talk about a challenge! He says that sometimes people come up to him after a speech (he’s a motivational speaker), and say things like, “After seeing what you are going through, I’ll NEVER complain again.” That bothers him a little. Of course they’ll complain again. They will suffer in other ways. He says, “There is no hope in comparing suffering, but there is hope in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

He’s right. I can’t pretend to understand the difficulty that a parent goes through who loses a child, or of someone who gets a divorce, or someone who suffers from depression, because I’ve never experienced any of those things. I can’t even say that I’ve had my own suffering that measures up to what they’re going through, because whether that’s true or not is totally irrelevant. Jesus Christ DOES know. Jesus Christ knows how to comfort them – and me. He is the source of all hope. Though I may not have the answers to give, or the true empathy they need, I know who does, and whatever I can do to help them recognize His role in their lives, will do more than anything else I can do.

Helping people come to Christ does more to help those who are suffering than even removing from their lives the cause of suffering. Does that make sense? Let me say that again, because I think it’s the key to the whole matter: if I can do something to help you turn to the Lord, it will do more for you than if I can remove the cause of your suffering.

And if you are one of those people who have so deeply suffered, then you are doubly equipped to help those around you. You can help with the suffering AND help them turn to the Savior.

If you are experiencing more than you can handle, whatever it is, the Lord is ready and willing to help. Start by just asking God for His help. Humbly go to Him and tell Him everything you are feeling. And then listen. He’s real, and He will answer you. I promise you, PROMISE you, He’s real. God lives, and wants to hear from you. He wants to help you. He wants to Heal you.

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement (MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement
(MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Amazing Grace: Piano Solo Arrangement (MP3 and Sheet Music)

Amazing Grace

The classic Christian hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by John Newton in 1772. John has an interesting story. As a slave trader, John had a profitable career. Later, seeing the error of slavery, he turned his heart and devoted the rest of his life to the abolition of slavery. As one feeling the need for divine grace for his involvement in the horror of slavery, he said, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Obviously, our actions must reflect our efforts to follow the Savior, Jesus Christ, but all of us, at some time in our lives, come to the realization that there is no hope without His help. Then, once coming upon that beautiful grace and forgiveness, we find that his mercy is a necessary part of our existence every hour of every day.

Without the Lord, we have nothing, but with Him we have everything. We can and should do all in our power to serve, honor, worship, and love Him, but in the end, it will be his incredible grace that will save us.

Amazing Grace

Original Lyrics, by John Newton, 1772

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.