The Blessing of a Song

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash


These days, watching the news or scrolling through social media often leaves me feeling discouraged and drained. The world is chaotic, full of noise. High tensions. Pointing fingers.

But Christians are called to stand firm in the faith, to be rooted in Christ, and to be examples of how to live boldly, and to be examples of how to live righteously in such confusing times.

I want to thank Bruce Nevin Haines for submitting the song “To Raise the Standard,” which reminds us of the importance of laying everything down at the cross for the sake of true peace. Please enjoy this timely and poignant song. I hope you are encouraged today.

—Dyane



Bruce Nevin Haines, singer-songwriter

Maryland-based singer-songwriter Bruce Nevin Haines developed a passion for songwriting at an early age. He has penned over 200 songs, and he strives for each one to resonate with life-changing truth and emotion. His influences are varied, but Haines prefers the acoustic guitar-driven styles of Bruce Cockburn and Dan Fogelberg. He is married to his wife of over 35 years, Carole, and has three adult children. For more, visit him on Soundcloud and YouTube.

Lost Pen Magazine 4: Christ Alone

It’s finally here! Issue 4, our last downloadable version of Lost Pen Magazine, is now available.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed poems, art, stories, testimonies, and more, each piece focused on the only One who matters: Jesus Christ alone.

(For the best reading experience, we recommend downloading the PDF and opening the file in a PDF viewer).

Click HERE to download your free copy.

Click HERE to check out our past issues.

Blessings!

Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond

Discouragement: 7 Ways to Respond 

by Faith Rogers

photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

During this difficult season, many people have been launching their brands, starting a business, investing, studying for exams, writing books, or just growing in God. All of those ventures are wonderful. However, fighting to get back up when you feel discouraged is difficult. Many people look at the results of their efforts and begin to rethink their choices. Some begin the task and then fear convinces them they will fail. If that is you, trust me, you are not alone.

Keep Moving Forward

There are times when the past looks more appealing than the effort of moving forward. New ventures are not for the faint of heart. There are times when hopelessness creeps in. However, remembering that what we are called to do is bigger than us and that we are not just working–our work will be a blessing to others. There is an audience waiting for you.

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today” Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV.

Discouraged but Don’t Quit

There are many successful individuals who have struggled to achieve their goal. The emotions of being discouraged or the thoughts of quitting crossed their mind, too. However, when God births an idea within, he will provide the means that will lead to prosperity. When you are following him, trust his plan because he will never leave nor forsake you. It’s not always easy but that’s why communicating with him is important. If you are battling with whether to give up, talk to God first and follow his leading.

Below are some ideas that may help you if you feel discouraged:

  • Meditate on God’s promises
  • Don’t forget why you decided to make that particular
  • Put on worship music, and rest in God’s presence
  • Share what you’re feeling or experiencing with those you trust
  • Wait for God to guide your footsteps 
  • Ask God to lead you to Godly mentors
  • Know that it’s ok to feel what you feel

Reasons to keep going

When we do all these things, God gives peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that He will give clarity and guidance to you about what to do next. You may not see the results you want but keep going in order to glorify God. I also pray that He gives you strategies and resources. Trust the process and know that the results will grow. 

Another important point is that we have to put in the work to become knowledgeable about our God-given assignments. When we commit our plans to the Lord they will succeed (Proverbs 16:3). He never said when, but He said they would bear fruit. He is with you and has already gone before you. God is no mere human! He doesn’t tell lies or change His mind. God always keeps his promises (Numbers 23:19 CEV).

About Faith Rogers

Faith Rogers is an assistant teacher who loves working with kids. She is a lifestyle blogger and aspiring author. Rogers is the youngest of three children in a family of five. She loves spending time with her family and sharing God’s Word to enrich the lives of others. Visit her website for more.

Inspirational Post: The Remedy for Discouragement

Photo by Rod Long (Unsplash)

The Remedy for Discouragement

by Nicole Byrum

It’s a Wonderful Life is a classic Christmas movie loved by many for the last seven decades. I hadn’t seen it for quite some time and enjoyed watching it with my family this past holiday season. It was the first viewing for both my kids (then 11 and 8), and I was so happy they enjoyed it. For those who may not be familiar with it (or if it’s been a while), the story begins by introducing Clarence, the angel who will intervene in George Bailey’s life. Clarence, eager to earn his wings, is told by God of a man in need of help. He responds by asking God if the man is sick. God answers, “No, worse. He’s discouraged.”   

That answer resonated with me. Nobody enjoys experiencing sickness of any kind, and being downtrodden in spirit is a particularly terrible woe.

Discouragement is defined as, “A loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.” How does this happen? What is it that leads us into this barren state of being? 

Often, the culprit comes in the form of unmet expectations or not making progress with our goals despite great effort. Discouragement can creep its way into every aspect of our lives—financial, relational, occupational, spiritual, emotional, and physical. And while people experience discouragement to varying degrees, they share one central theme: a loss of hope. 

For instance, we lose hope of mending a relationship, that our bank account will be sufficient, that our ailments will be healed, or that we will find purpose and fulfillment in life. We even lose hope in the goodness and faithfulness of God. When there is no perceivable light at the end of the tunnel and all seems lost, discouragement takes root within us. Such was the case with George Bailey. He could see no hope for the future and came to believe it would have been better if he had never been born. This demonstrates the ultimate depth of discouragement.  

The voice of discouragement yields destruction by breeding doubt, uncertainty, and fear. If you have experienced these effects, know you are in good company, for so did John the Baptist, Peter, and Thomas.

John the Baptist was the man who announced to the world, “Behold, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). He was the man who proclaimed he was unworthy to untie Jesus’ sandal straps. And it was he who held the Son of Man in his arms as he heard the voice of God and saw the Holy Spirit. While in prison, this same man became discouraged, and he doubted. He asked the disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matthew 11:3). Those words could only have been spoken out of deep uncertainty and despair. 

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Photo by Joshua Earle (Unsplash)

In the wake of Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter, the disciple who had boldly declared he would always stay by Jesus’ side, denied him three times. Although Peter loved his Lord and was devoted to Him, he failed to grasp Jesus’ real reason for coming to the world. Peter hoped that Jesus would overturn the Romans’ power to gain freedom for the Jews. He did not comprehend that Jesus had come to offer something better—freedom from sin. When Jesus did not resist arrest by the Roman guards, Peter’s discouragement—triggered by unmet expectations—led him to fear for his life and to deny his Saviour.  

While Jesus was dead and buried, His followers were left in the throes of discouragement and angst. Despite the prophetic words Jesus had spoken about His return, nobody expected an empty grave. Upon hearing of the resurrection, Thomas stated he would only believe if he were to touch Jesus’ hands and side. Again, bitter discouragement prevented belief.  

Have you felt the same? Can you relate to George Bailey, John the Baptist, Peter, and Thomas? I think we all can. Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us:

 

“What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.” (NIV)

 

Nobody is immune to discouragement and its ugly effects. And while discouragement may be inevitable, there is a remedy: hope and grace. 

Lexico defines grace as “the free and unmerited favour of God.” In other words, it is freely given and completely unearned. Instead of a harsh, condemning lecture, Jesus responded to John the Baptist by saying to his disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me,” (Matthew 11:4-6). 

Then there was Peter. I can’t imagine the anguish he felt the day Jesus was crucified. When he denied Jesus, he must have been consumed by unbearable guilt. How the tears must have fallen when he heard the rooster crow! What ran through his mind at the announcement of Jesus’ resurrection? What did he feel? Joy? Hope? Most likely. But I’m sure there was also a terrible sense of anxiety about facing the One he denied. Perhaps he expected Jesus to say, “Peter, how could you?” or “Didn’t I tell you that you would deny me?!” Or maybe worse: “Peter I want no part of you.” Instead, Jesus simply asked if he loved Him exactly three times. For each denial, Jesus gave Peter glorious and gracious redemption.   

What was His response to “Doubting Thomas?” Jesus could have ignored or chided him for his lack of faith. But when He appeared to Thomas a week after his resurrection, He said to him, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe,” (John 20:27). Jesus honoured Thomas’ request. We aren’t told what Thomas did next, only that he said, “My Lord and my God!” Undoubtedly, Jesus’ grace strengthened Thomas’ faith for the rest of his life.    

And what about us? Amid our discouragement, Jesus invites us to lean hard into His infinite grace. When we’re swimming in the waters of fear, doubt, and uncertainty, He extends the same grace to us as He did to our brothers in Christ discussed above. His grace increases our faith and restores us from the valley of guilt and shame. His grace bids us to love Him and to trust His promises. His grace is forever sufficient.    

 

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Photo by hpuppet (Pixabay)

Finally, true and lasting hope extinguishes the flames of discouragement. Far too often, we place our hope in the things of this world: money, jobs, status, relationships, and health. We are blessed to be stewards of these things, but they are not to be our greatest treasures. When we make them so, we create misplaced hope which always leads to despair. It seems David, the Old Testament poet and king, reminded himself of this when he wrote: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God,” (Psalm 42:5). Because God never fails us, our hope in Him will never be in vain.  

To be sure, there will be days when all feels lost. In those times, we can rest soundly in the grace of God and the hope of our Saviour. And when needed, we can read the following words and take heart: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” These are the words written by a man who would know—a man forever changed by the grace and hope of Jesus. You can find them in 1 Peter 5:10.    

 

About Nicole Byrum

Byrum is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 13 years of experience in community mental health.  She is the author of Remade: Living Free, a book written for women in recovery from substance abuse and unhealthy relationships.  NBNicole also maintains a blog at nicolebyrum.com as well as a podcast, 5 Minute Word.  Both focus on topics related to faith, relationships, and recovery.  She lives in northwest Ohio with her husband and two children.  When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, running, or cooking.  

You can also find her on social media: 

Nicole Byrum- Facebook page, nicole.j.byrum- Instagram , Nicole Byrum- YouTube Channel

 

 

The Steps That Lead To Nowhere

Photo by Tama66 (Pixabay)

 

The Steps That Lead To Nowhere

by Carole L. Haines

 

Our family just loves to visit abandoned places. There are a few really interesting ones near our home. Our son is especially into this, so we go on hikes with him to see these places. He studies up on the history of the places and tells us about them as we explore. It’s intriguing to visit where others have trod long ago. You can almost hear the echoes of voices calling from room to room; it’s like the walls are aching with stories to tell. The places seem to brighten when we walk in, as if glad someone has remembered them and has come to wander awhile. 

One of the most interesting places we visited was fenced off, which was good because the area is an old missile site. As we peered through the fence, we could see a set of steps that led Nowhere—steps leading to where a building had been before it was torn down. This reminded me of how important it is for us to take an inventory of what we invest our time in. Are there steps that lead to Nowhere in our own lives? Are there ruins of things that have long since collapsed that we continue to revisit, climbing steps to Nowhere, causing the pain to rush back in, the scars to throb, and the wounds to pulsate with reminders of what was or what could have been? There is nothing wrong with reflection, but looking back too often is like climbing steps that lead to Nowhere.

There’s a quote I read on the site Godinterest that says: “Leave behind the past because nothing is going to change there, and the more you keep looking back the more you’ll fail to see what’s in front of you.”

I love where the quote says, “Nothing is going to change there.” It’s so true. God is calling us forward. Hear His call:

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.

(Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

 

“I am the Lord; that is my name!
    I will not yield my glory to another
    or my praise to idols.
See, the former things have taken place,
    and new things I declare;
before they spring into being
    I announce them to you.”

 (Isaiah 42:8-10, NIV)

We often paralyze ourselves with regrets and “if onlys.” By the power of Jesus, we can set ourselves free. Through His grace, love, and forgiveness, we can walk away from the past that continues to draw us up the steps that lead to Nowhere.

So, stop climbing those steps and move onward and upward. Move closer to the Lord who loves you, redeems you, and promises to work all things together for Good, to those who love Him and trust His purpose for their lives (Romans 8:28).

 

About Carole L. Haines

Haines has been writing devotions, poetry, songs, etc. for the last ten years on her blog. One of her ministries is to make crosses out of broken glass and pottery and other materials to give to people in crises, such as grieving the loss of a loved one or deep disappointments. The message behind the giving of the crosses and my blog is that God can bring great beauty out of great brokenness. He doesn’t ever waste a tear or a heartache. Our God is a Redeemer, our Great and Mighty Savior, Our friend and our hope. Visit Haines here.

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