God, You’re So Good

Mitch Keeler, Stonepoint Member

God, You’re so good,

God, You’re so good,

God, You’re so good,

You’re so good to me

If you’ve been in church as long as I have, you probably recognize this tune. You might even be humming it to yourself as you read. It’s a little variation on the typical words “God is so good,” but still very recognizable.

The tune is traditionally an African hymn, translated by Paul Makai and then translated by Marilyn Foulkes again into English.  The simple tune carries throughout the song, with many variations on the lyrics, “He answers prayer”, “I love Him so”, “I praise His name,”etc.  And maxresdefaultoften, there may even be church specific variations. It makes a great introductory song for children because of the repetitive words and simple melody. I know our daughter Avalyn has picked it up quickly and sings along now as well*.

We’ve added the Passion version of this song to worship at Stonepoint, and have sang it the past two Sundays. This version adds new verses and a bridge to this simple chorus.  The bridge is endlessly singable, and powerful in lyrics. It reminds us of the blessings we have as children of God.

I am blessed, I am called,

I am healed, I am whole,

I am saved in Jesus’ name.

Highly favored, anointed

Filled with Your power

For the Glory of Jesus’ name.

Those first lines, while very empowering, can become a little to close to a “prosperity gospel” if they are the sole focus.  They can center us in what God does for us – the slot machine prayer style god. A trap in which we can easily fall into. The last line is what solidifies the whole bridge. It is the reminder of why all these things happen.  Why we are set apart – for the glory of His name alone.

We are created to glorify God and bring the glory to His name.  Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31.  We are called, healed, made whole and restored, saved, blessed, anointed, and filled with His power, so that His name may be lifted high and His purpose accomplished. We are instruments and vessels, used by the Master.

The last verse also serves as a great reminder that this purposes exists in the good times and the rough times in our lives. We are to glorify His name in all times and to use whatever our circumstances to bring Him glory.

And should this life bring suffering

Lord, I will remember

What Calvary has bought for me

Both now and forever.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) God can use the worst of our circumstances, us at our lowest, to bring glory to His name.  When we share stories of these struggles, we can encourage others, caution them, console them, empathize with them, and remind each other that we exist in this shared space together. When we reveal our weakness, we show His strength. And we can truly claim, God, You’re so good, You’re so good to me.

*My favorite story from Sunday: In our second service, my wife, Jamie was working with the 3-4 year olds and observed Avalyn. When Avalyn heard this song start, she said “It’s God You’re So Good” and started singing along. Another little girl in the class tried to talk to her in this time, and she said “Shhh, listen” and kept singing. We’ll have another little singer in the family.

2018 sixsteps Music, worshiptogether.com Songs, SHOUT! Music Publishing (Admin by Capitol CMG Publishing)

Words and music by Brett Younker/Kristian Stanfill/Brooke Ligertwood/Scott Ligertwood

For more “assorted thoughts, musings, rants, and raves on assorted and sundry topics” from Mitch, check out his blog at https://www.mitchellany.com

Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings

Mark Johnston, Connections Pastor

When i was around 15, i went to camp with my church at Glorieta, NM. It was youth week, and churches all over the this part of the country had sent their kids on buses to spend a week singing, crying and listening to preaching. We were in the big main auditorium and it was a great experience.

One night, they had an altar call and i really Lawrence Welkfelt led to surrender my life to ‘special service.’ (That’s Baptist youth-speak for ‘doing what God wants you to do with your life, but really, really hoping it doesn’t mean ‘overseas missionary.’) I had played the piano since i was 7, and had played the guitar for a couple of years by then, and i didn’t have too many other abilities that just jumped off the page, so music seemed the natural fit.

I went down front and some people ushered me to a back room where they signed me up to receive literature on Church Music, and soon my mailbox at home was flooded with information from schools and little flyers on ‘how to lead a choir’ and things like that.

Now, let me go on record as saying i am not knocking choir or traditional church music! But it wasn’t for me.

I didn’t really like singing in the Youth Choir at church, didn’t like it at all when the Adult Choir sang their weekly ‘special’ before the sermon, and pretty much zoned out on a lot of the hymns we sang at church.

But i loved music. Just not most church music.

So i figured that somehow, i’d gotten my wires crossed with God that night at Glorieta and kept on playing the guitar in my room on Friday nights when the other kids were at football games.

The thing that was strange to me was that people at church really didn’t listen to church music the rest of the week, either. Variety shows were still sort of a big deal on TV back in the 70s, and nobody sang with a piano and organ on those. On Saturday night, even the stodgy Lawrence Welk Show had a big band and people dancing and played toe-tapping tunes that sounded like they were from the 1950s, before Bill Haley and Elvis shook things up.

I really didn’t like that either, but my parents watched it, which meant I watched it. (To this day, I will admit to tearing up like a teenage girl watching The Notebook when i remember Joe Feeney singing Danny Boy. It. Wipes. Me. Out.)

A few years later, people started getting cable and church people would watch Bill Gaither on Saturday nights with his group. They had drums and guitars—not like we had DRUMS and GUITARS in my garage band, mind you, but it was a baby step toward modernization.

Our pastor, bless his heart, let us do ‘youth night’ once every few months, and we’d bring our guitars and drums and do the music for Sunday night church. I’d bang the piano out of tune, and we’d do a couple of rocked up hymns and I Wish We’d All Been Ready, the 70s Christian Rock anthem. He had the foresight to know that we’d be playing somewhere, so it might as well be at church.

The thing i never could figure out, and could never get explained to me was this—why did the music that people listened to on Saturday Night have to sound different than what they listened to on Sunday Morning?

It wasn’t until 2001 that our church decided to dip their toes in the ‘contemporary waters’ and since the Music Director, who had studied church music in Seminary had no idea how to write chord charts or arrange songs for a band, and since i’d been doing it since i was 14, he asked me to help out. He left after a year or so, and his assistant took over in the newly minted Worship Leader position, and i went on staff, part time, to help her out as the Praise Band director.

So it took 25 years for God to reveal what my ‘call’ in Glorieta had been about.

After a few years, she left to be a missionary to Tanzania, and i spent a year leading worship as interim, before some people decided they really wanted a choir again, and hired someone to do that. Nice guy—we’re friends. But, my feelings were kinda hurt, so i left, and pretty much stopped playing music altogether, figuring that my ‘time’ was done and my call from God was complete.

Three years later, Brandon called and told me over lunch that he was planting a church in Wills Point, and after i figured out where it was, and that it was within driving distance from our home in Lake Highlands, i agreed to help for six months until we found a suitable replacement.

We didn’t, and i’m still here, loving what i get to do every Sunday.

God’s timing is a funny thing. Poor Joseph, in Genesis 37, had to wait years for God to reveal it, enduring hatred from his brothers, slavery, imprisonment—what we would call a horrible existence. But he stayed true to his call and his God and it all worked out according to the divine plan.

David was anointed to be King of Israel at a very young age (I Samuel, starting around Chapter 16) and faced nothing but trials, being chased by his enemies, and having spears chunked at him by the reigning King. But he, too, remained faithful to the calling God placed on him, and ended up the greatest King that Israel ever had, and despite his failings, revered as ‘a man after God’s own heart.’

I’m not saying i compare to those guys. I didn’t stay true to my call, and i spent 10 years trying, and failing to figure out what it was, and take pretty regular detours of my own choosing.

But God has a plan for you, too.

It may not have been revealed at the front of a big church service when you were a teenager, but there’s something He wants you to accomplish among your family, and the people you’re in community with.

Let’s not waste our Saturday nights or any of our other, limited days without finding what that is. And let’s certainly not waste our Sunday mornings not gathering together to celebrate it.

With Opened Hands

Christian Neal, Stonepoint Member

I think it would be really easy for me to write another blog post about all the cool things I’m doing with God and neglect the fact that I’m falling apart on the inside.

open-hands-1024x683I don’t mean to discourage anyone. And maybe I’m not the only one behind a closed door wondering if I even know Jesus and walk with Him when I battle impure thoughts daily and I become angry or anxious on a daily basis as well.

I probably shouldn’t be wrestling with these things on the day before Easter. “Easter is supposed to be a celebration,” you may say. And perhaps I’ve kinda lost focus. But when many people around me seem to make Easter into a list of things to do and not do… I’m almost left wondering what’s wrong with me.

I really don’t want to hide behind closed doors to hide the depression I feel, or the anger I stuff down inside. But, at the same time, I’d really like for you to like me—for everyone to like me. And if I let my real self out… well, what happens then?

Like Paul Abel said last week at church when he shared his testimony—trying to play the “Christian game” (no pun intended, haha) is miserable and draining. How do I be authentic, truly be real, and let God move in my life to actually know Him, rather than be a Pharisee and do all these things to be good enough for God—and good enough for others? I’m not really sure of the answer.

But I really need Your help, God. I don’t want to act in front of people anymore. (I have a long way to go, but at least I can start here.) I would like somehow to be able to love the people around me, but at the same time, I don’t want to put up a façade to where people think that I’ve got it all together.

I’m pretty much rambling. But, I think core value #1 in our Journey Group has really been on my mind lately: Abide Daily. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” 

I’m beginning to find myself in God’s presence with open hands. That’s what my spiritual mom encouraged me to do. She suggested I open up my hands and lay down my will, my plans and ambitions before God, and let Him put in my hands what He would have me to do. It makes sense God would lead me to do this, since I struggle with being in control of everything—every situation and everyone around me. (Which is why I try to impress people all the time, so that they can like me and I can control what they think about me. Yeah…that doesn’t work out very well, but in my mind supposedly it does.)

I was sitting in His presence one day with my hands opened up, and I was having a hard time letting go. I really do have a hard time with that often. But then God’s still, small voice spoke to me. He showed me that, when my hands are open and not holding on to anything else, now there is room for God’s hands to hold mine. When I try to hold on to things with all my might, there’s no room for God to hold my hands. Jesus, please help me to open my hands up to let you hold me.