Tag Archives: Don Francisco

A Song for Good Friday

Here we are again in the Christian calendar, in the middle of the Holy Week observances. It would be easier to gloss over the pain Jesus bore to buy our salvation, but we need to know the cost of this gift. It was a price we could never pay, for a rescue we could never earn.

Of the many songs that celebrate Jesus’ willing sacrifice and victory, here’s the one I’ve chosen to share this year: “Too Small a Price,” by Don Francisco. Don’t be alarmed by the 16+ minutes it shows in the YouTube pane. This is a clip from a live event, and after “Too Small a Price,” they sing “Here I Am to Worship.” If you have the time to listen to the end, Don Francisco shares a few words. I wish they hadn’t cut the recording there. You’ll need about 10 minutes to hear the full effect of “Too Small a Price.” Don’t tune out when the Cross part ends, or you’ll miss the wonder of the song.


Time Sensitive Invitation

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
Luke 13:34, NLT*

“You wouldn’t let Me.”

Those are some of the saddest words in the Bible. Jesus makes the invitation, but it’s up to us to accept Him.

I’ve been reading the  Gospel of Luke, seeing again Jesus’ miracles and teaching, watching the stages of revelation and responsibility He gave His disciples.

By this point in the narrative, He’s moving toward Jerusalem for the last time, and His teaching has taken on an urgency. Chapter 13 warns repeatedly that time is running out, for Jesus’ hearers and for people today.

Those who don’t turn from their old ways and “work hard to enter the narrow door” (Luke 13:24, NLT*) – those who won’t come on God’s terms instead of insisting on their own interpretations – will one day find it’s too late.

There is restricted access to a relationship with God in the Kingdom of Heaven. There will be a cut-off time, an expiry to the invitation.

But the invitation is extended to everyone. “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” (2 Peter 3:9b, NLT*)

Holy God, our finite minds can’t grasp the enormity of sin or the vastness of Your love. Thank You for the grace of Jesus, and please give us faith to cling to You. Help us recognize when others are responding to Your Spirit’s call, and give us wisdom and willingness to speak or to be silent as You lead. May we do nothing to hinder anyone’s coming to You.

Take a few minutes to let Don Francisco re-tell the story of the fall – and God’s heart-cry for reconciliation: “Adam, Where Are You?

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

God’s Urgency

How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
Matthew 23:37, NLT*

Jesus came because we needed rescuing. I love Mark’s description of Jesus’ reaction to a large crowd:

“He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6:34, NLT*)

He had compassion on them. The Good Shepherd saw their need and longed to meet it.

Hear His longing in our opening verse, where He laments over the city of Jerusalem. He’s lamenting still today, calling out to so many lost and confused souls who don’t even realize their state.

Sometimes I catch an echo of his heart… the Creator, the King, calling… almost begging… for souls to turn His way.

It matters that much to Him. We matter that much to Him.

And I feel like time’s running out.

We can’t convince people to trust their hearts to Jesus. That’s His work. But we can pray for them, we can demonstrate His care for them, and we can speak a few words when they’re open to hear.

Fierce and gentle Shepherd, call Your lambs and help them to listen. Rescue them from where they’re trapped, from menacing predators, and let them experience the true and good care that only You can give.

Here’s Don Francisco‘s song, “Adam, Where Are You?” Hear the urgency in the final verse, and pray for those still in the darkness.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Waste or Worship?

While [Jesus] was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said.
Matthew 26:7-8, NLT*

A variant of this story is found in all four Gospels**, and I usually think of the one where Judas complained about the money and John says it was because he used to steal from the money pouch.

What catches me here is that all the disciples are indignant about it. Jesus has been telling them He’s going to die, and Matthew actually shows them trying to figure it out a bit. Of course they’re not getting it—the human brain could never conceive of a plan on the scale of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.

The disciples were good men, devoted to Jesus and learning His ways. Giving to the poor was important. They understood that, even if they didn’t get the “coming death” part.

They were so caught up in “the plan” as they knew it that they missed another thread in God’s tapestry. God had a different assignment for this woman on this day, and they would have blocked it by “leaning on their own understanding.”

Anointing Jesus this way expressed her love and gratitude, but it was also a visual prophecy like so many in the Old Testament. She demonstrated what was to come.

And I think her tender gesture blessed Jesus’ heart. He knew what was ahead, and although He didn’t show any sign of strain about it until the struggle in the garden, I’ve wondered how He focused on the now without being paralyzed by the yet-to-come.

God our Father, Master Artist, Your work is detailed beyond our imagining. Help us listen closely to know Your leading, and help us obey with willing hearts. Give us courage when what You ask is different from others’ expectations. And give us grace to recognize Your leading in others’ lives when it doesn’t look the same as the way You work in us. Thank You for the whole picture, which only You can see. We will trust Your ways.

Don Francisco’s  song, “Beautiful to Me,” tells the story as found in Luke’s Gospel. I love how he brings stories like this to life.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

**I hadn’t realized there were two women who had a part in anointing Jesus for his burial. Both took place in Bethany around the same time, but this one’s in the house of Simon, a former leper, and the woman isn’t named. The other is in the house of Lazarus and it’s his sister, Mary. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet, this woman anoints His head [Luke says she anointed Jesus’ feet, and that may be a third woman but the host is still named Simon (the Pharisee).] Some would say it’s all one event, but while I know a lot of Scripture needs a non-literal interpretation, I view the actual events as historical. Clearly, some of them were (eg. the crucifixion). I don’t dare pick and choose. This is my interpretation, and I respect yours whether or not it’s the same. I’m not here for argument or debate, just to share what God’s teaching me. In this case, the take-away is the same whether there was one anointing or more. ~JS.

Feelings and Emotions

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Isaiah 53:3, NIV*

I’ve been writing a lot lately about the deceptiveness of feelings and how we need to trust God instead of ourselves. I’m still learning, thinking it through on-screen, discovering what it means in my own life.

For me, the emphasis has been on not believing false feelings: the vague unease, dissatisfaction or sadness that can have me living “in the dumps” instead of in the confidence in my heritage in Christ.

Then there are true feelings, and I’ll call them emotions to help me see this clearer. Things like grief, fear, loneliness. Anger. Happiness—why does that one not come around as much as the others?

Jesus experienced emotions. There’s nothing wrong with them, and I think they’re a key ingredient in what makes us human. It’s not healthy to suppress or deny them, but we still can’t let them rule us.

Recognizing them can help us rely on God’s sustaining grace in our daily lives. In the words of author/speaker Grace Fox, if we feel fear over something God calls us to do, we need obey anyway—to “do it afraid.” Or sad, or whatever.

And He is calling us to do things. If angry, we’re still responsible to refrain from delivering a sinful response. Grieving, to treat others in love.

God our Maker, You know our weakness and You promise to give wisdom when we ask. Teach us to discern between deceptive feelings and genuine emotions. Teach us to rely on Your truth and to reject the lies. And help us rightly handle our emotions so we’ll live as genuine humans who trust Your care, neither denying what we feel nor being ruled by it. 

There aren’t a lot of songs about true emotions and about the lie that we shouldn’t express them. Here’s Don Francisco’s “It Ain’t No Sin to Get the Blues.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Confident that God is at Work

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendour of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

   “Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.
2 Chronicles 20:21b-22, NIV*

The attacking armies were overwhelming. King Jehoshapat cried out to God for help and received one of God’s more dramatic answers:

Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. … You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give…. (2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17a, NIV*)

I love this story. Jehoshaphat led the army out with praise, trusting God to keep His promise.

We don’t often know when a crisis is approaching, and even then God rarely tells us what He’s going to do and how it’ll turn out. But we can know He’s always with us, at work and in control.

What if we went into each day, each situation, with praise going ahead of us? Expecting to see God working, even when we don’t know how or where?

As Violet Nesdoly said recently at Other Food: Daily Devos, “let’s position ourselves under the spout of God’s blessing … no matter what our situation looks like on the outside.” (see the full post: “God’s Blessings, Man’s Defraudings”)

God promised to never leave nor forsake us. We can go forward in confident praise and trust that He’s working—whether we see it or not doesn’t change the fact of His active presence.

I suspect that, in the looking, we  might be more likely to see Him at work and to respond with gratitude.

God who saves and shepherds us, help me rely on Your grace and power. Whether I see trouble approaching or think I’m safe, help me remember that You are with me. Help me trust Your plan. Train my spirit to step out in praise and to recognize and give thanks for Your touch.

Here’s Don Francisco’s song about Jehoshaphat. You can take the catchy praise chorus into your day and be blessed.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Love One Another

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34-34, NIV*

Last week at Whatever He Says, Belinda posted on the importance of relationships, including the quote, “Relationship—with God and with people—nothing else matters”. It’s a powerful post, and worth reading (scroll up from where the link takes you). The novel I finished on the weekend, Just Between You and Me, made me think about it too. And the book I’m currently reading, Majesty in Motion, focuses on…you guessed it: relationships.

I didn’t plan any of this.

Did I mention our Bible study group at church is using the Experiencing God Workbook? We’re at the “relationships” section now.

God can be subtle with some people, but He knows I take a bit of prodding.

Loving one another doesn’t have a lot to do with warm, fuzzy feelings. Singer/songwriter Don Francisco called it an act of the will.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails [stops/ends]. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV*

It’s intentional, deliberate, a choice we make. A choice we can only follow through on by relying on God’s love in us.

Father, I’m so thankful that You meet us where we are, but You love us too much to leave us there. You promised to grow us to be more like Your Son. Jesus saw people through Your eyes—with Your heart. Help me learn to do that too, and to be useful to You in encouraging and loving them.

Our song this week is Matt Maher’s “Hold Us Together”.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Love Each Other Deeply

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8, NIV*

The Apostle Peter places a lot of emphasis in this letter on how Christians should conduct ourselves in relationships and in hardships. He’s already told us to “love one another deeply, from the heart [or from a pure heart]” (1 Peter 1:22b, NIV)

Now he reminds us again to love deeply, and says it covers a multitude of sins. He’s been urging us to live well in relationship, and I think this is the “how”.

Most translations that I checked speak of love covering sins. (I love Bible Gateway). The Message expresses it as “love makes up for practically anything.”  The Amplified Bible says love “forgives and disregards the offenses of others.

Peter’s not saying love will turn a blind eye, excuse or enable wicked or destructive behaviour. It seems to me the “sins” love covers are twofold:

People are irritating (rumour has it, this includes me!). If I choose to ignore the thing(s) that grate me in another person, choose to focus on that person’s value and to love him or her, that helps me obey Peter’s teaching and live like Jesus.

And by choosing to love rather than to be critical, I’m dealing with or negating sin in my own life. Jesus had lots to say about being critical and judgmental.

Father, You know true, Christ-like love doesn’t come naturally… or easily. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit, who longs to produce it in me. Please help me learn to rest more in Him and not hinder His fruit in me. Help me to love others, because You love them. Thank You for loving me too.

For this week’s song, I chose Don Francisco’s “I Could Never Promise You,” which is often thought of as a wedding song but which I think applies just as well to all of a Christian’s relationships. How can we promise to love others without Jesus’ enabling? At the end of the video there’s some conversation about that.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Declaring God’s Praises

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV*

As Christians, we are chosen, changed. Rescued, because God loves us. Having experienced God’s mercy, we get to tell others how wonderful He is.

And our message isn’t just “trust Jesus so you can go to Heaven when you die.” It’s “trust Him now, to experience new life now.”

Jesus paid to rescue us from the darkness that trapped each one. For some of us it may have been twilight-level darkness, for others the pitch black of a deep cave. Compared to God’s clear light, it restricted our vision and diminished our quality of life.

“Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me” and I need to share the amazing opportunity with those who want to hear. Not a pushy “sister, are you saaaaved,” but “tell me your story, and let me tell you mine”.

When I see God at work in my life, touching my day, I need to praise Him and I need to share it. It may cause someone who doesn’t know Him yet to think about Him. It’ll definitely encourage the heart of someone who already knows Him. We’re on this journey together, let’s help one another along the road.

Father, please open my eyes to recognize what You’ve already done in my life and what You’re doing each day. Grant me a grateful heart, and help me share You with others.

Most days our stories aren’t as dramatic as the one in this song, but I pray the LORD will stir us to want to share them. Here’s Don Francisco, singing “Gotta Tell Somebody.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Psalm 46:10-11, NIV*

The Psalm opens with “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1, NIV) From there, the writer expands on both the greatness of God and the magnitude of the trouble.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Or as the New American Standard Bible translates it, “Cease striving.” The context makes me think this “Be still” is addressed to the clamouring nations, but it also applies to the frantic Israelites.

Personally, I paraphrase it as “Stop fighting the universe.”

Be still… cease striving… stop fighting. Sounds good, but once we’re wound up we can’t stop. We’re like a toddler on overload who needs a loving parent to draw her into a big hug and whisper “shhh” against her hair.

Know that I am God…. When we’re still, we can see… experience… understand… learn that He is God.

How? By what He whispers to our hearts? By experiencing His presence? By seeing Him work in our circumstances? All this, and more.

Father, please calm our spirits. Still our souls until we can rest in You.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Let Don Francisco’s song, “Still Your Soul in Silence,” bless you today.

There’s a related post, “Be Still”, at the Moses Free Spirit Missionary Baptist Church Blog. Honest, I wrote mine on my own, and didn’t see this one until May 13/08! I guess the Spirit was whispering “be still” to a lot of us.

Another related post: Rest in God.

Another related post: Being Still.