Choosing Stillness

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Being still has been my constant nemesis. This could be the reason that the first song I wrote was called “Be Still”. I have a hard time sitting still, focusing (I think I may have A.D.D….seriously), and putting things aside completely to spend time with God. I fill my life with busyness, I thrive on doing stuff…not necessarily entertainment but doing…cleaning, work, etc. These aren’t necessarily bad things but they are consuming things that steal my time with Jesus. I think if we all took a hard look at our schedules we could say we have plenty of time to spend with Him in our quiet times, study, prayer, worship. We know it is worth it!

Jennie says this week about stillness and time with God – “Only being with God is going to satisfy us!” In chapter 8, Jennie tells us that connection with God is the foundation for every other God-given tool we have to fight with.” We need His supernatural power to help us. God transforming our minds helps us recognize and name the lies trying to steal our joy, our peace, our attention. We have to spend time with Him.

Last year I led a study through a book called “Unseen” by Sara Hagerty and one of my favorite things was how Sara and her family honor the Sabbath. It may be a Friday but for that one day they unplug and focus their attention on Jesus. Oh how this is the desire of my heart and yet so hard for me to do.

“It has been said – and I think it is true – that the most valuable asset we possess is our attention, which prompts the question, to what are we attending?” – Jennie (Get Out of Your Head, pg 76)

As we continue on through this study, my prayer is that we begin to see and recognize and then lay aside the things that try to steal our time. Is it Netflix, social media trolling, even working around the house or trying to “keep busy”? Maybe it’s the start to our day that needs attention, wake up and get with Jesus before the day’s tasks invade our thoughts, before the scrolling and trolling. Block out the noise and choose silence.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” Jesus said, “and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Behind the Music ~ Psalm 71

“Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?” Psalm 71:19

Psalm 71 is about rescue, deliverance, redemption and praise, praise, praise!

“My praise is continually of you.” Psalm 71:6b

“My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.” Psalm 71:8

“But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.” Psalm 71:14-15

“I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long.” Psalm 71:22-24a

This song, song #8, was the final song for my album titled “Sing for the King”. Along with my 8 original songs I chose two others co-written by Tonya Poe, Wayne Smothermann, and David Garcia; Wordless and I Believe.

Psalm 71 got its title because I didn’t know what to call it, honestly. Interestingly enough, when people saw the title it made them read the scriptures from Psalm 71. Maybe all songs should be titled this way 🙂

Musically this song transformed from keys and lead vocal to 3 part harmonies and a more intricate piano version, along with all the other instruments that gave it a special kind of oomph. I played the keys part on the recording but when I do this song live I simply cannot play that rhythm and sing at the same time (maybe with lots of practice…but probably not). The other vocal parts consisted of a lower harmony and high harmony, my cousin, Jenn was originally slated to sing some of these parts but was unable to make the recording due to a surgery she had to endure. Jamie Groshart sings the high harmony and I sing the other parts. I am so thankful for so many talented musicians to sing, play and record music. I wrote this song in January of 2017, below is the raw, first, just finished writing version with me and the keyboard. And then the recording for the album.

Psalm 71

Verse 1
Deliver me, in Your righteousness
Rescue my soul, save me, O Lord
Verse 2
Be to me, my refuge and strength
Hide me, O Lord, in Your truth and Your grace

Chorus
I will praise You, I will praise You
An offering I bring, to give honor to my King

Verse 3
Pursue me, with your redeeming love
Remind me, I am Yours alone
Verse 4
Upon You, I have leaned all my life
Send me, to proclaim Your sacrifice

Bridge
You, who restores me
You, who revives me
You lift me up again
Your reign will never end

Chorus 2
We will praise You, We will praise You
An offering we bring, to give honor to our King

Tag
Pursue me, with Your redeeming love
Remind me, I am Yours alone

©2017 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)

Get Out of Your Head ~ Week 3

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

As we are developing the mind of Christ, we’ll have a fight on our hands. But God gives us a weapon for every attack of the enemy. The next two weeks we will look at the weapons we use to combat the enemy and the thoughts that try to ensnare us.

For week 3, I am going to try to pair up the chapters in the book with the Bible study so this may be a bit strange or a bit less strange, ha!

Week 3:

Philippians Bible Study

  • Complete Session 3 in the study guide
  • Watch Session 3: Weapons We Use – Part 1 (on Study Gateway)

GOOYH Book

  • Read Chapters 7, 8, 11, 12
  • Listen to ‘Made for This’ Podcast (Season 3) Episode 3: Noise vs. Silence, Episode 9: Cynicism vs. Delight, and Episode 11: Self-Importance vs. Humility. *Feel free to listen to Episodes 4, 10, & 12

Memorize Scripture (Continue to work on memorizing Philippians 2:5-11)

To Live is Christ ❤

“For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

‘It’s all – always – about Christ. Paul experienced a massive shift, and now he was a totally different man. No longer was he a slave to his circumstances or his emotions. Paul now chose to live aware of the power of Christ in him, through him, and for him. Paul now had the power of the Spirit – the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, and he chose to live aware of and under that power.’ – Jennie Allen (Get Out of Your Head, pg 37-38)

How did this happen? How did I let the enemy and my own thoughts creep in without much notice? Until…I finally did. I sent this email mid-January to my S4K teammates:

Teammates, co-laborers for Christ, friends – 
As some of you know (some more than others), I’ve had a rough few weeks, I haven’t felt like myself and felt like the fruits of the Spirit were not evident in my life…but God’s grace is so good and He has overcome my weaknesses.  With my hubby’s prompting I am taking the rest of this week off (today thru Saturday) and going to see my family.  I feel like I have turned a corner and am much better, God is working and moving and I am going to use this time to draw close to Him.  So, this all to say I probably won’t return your text messages, email, etc unless it is an absolute emergency. (except for the hubs ;))

Reading it now, I see I was still not recognizing all that was going on in me. Although I did make some strides towards peace I found that a couple of months later those thoughts started showing back up and tormenting me. Can I tell you that Session 2 has overwhelmed me? In such a sweet and precious way! I cried watching the video and took so many notes throughout this session. The theme or takeaways this week for me were “to live is Christ” – He is everything! And to be led by the Spirit! I know the Spirit lives in me because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. My gradual decay of listening to the lies of the enemy and not feeding the Spirit enough led me to a several month downward spiral.

There is still more work to be done and I am so thankful that God does not leave us alone. His Spirit is working and moving and changing me day by day.

One of my biggest realizations or enlightenments this week was me loving something more than God or putting something in the place of Him or above Him and that is the ministry I love, the ministry He has called me to, and it has to stop. ‘The fact is that we even put “good” things in place of God. What are we chasing? What are we worshiping? We have to learn to recognize it and seek discipline.’ – Jennie Allen (Session 2 video) The shift has to begin with putting God in His proper place, first. What are we chasing, what are we worshiping, what are we thinking about the most or fixating on? Our jobs, kids, ministries, even our endless to-do lists can take over our thoughts when our focus should be on Christ. Jesus is enough and if He is #1 then I don’t have to worry or think about all the things swirling around me, He will take care of it. All those things will fall into their proper place when I put Him first. This aim – Jesus – is better than life!

I loved that Jennie’s friend spoke this truth to Jennie when she finally confessed what was taking place in her thought life – ‘Jennie, this is not who you are’. (Chapter 4 – GOOYH book). I needed to hear this because for months I have thought ‘what in the world is wrong with me? why am I walking backwards in my faith? why am I so weak? why am I not listening and heeding to the same word I am speaking to others?’ Christy, this is not who you are. What a simple yet profound moment of truth for me, for us. We are not what the enemy says we are, we are not what others say we are, we are not what we sometimes say we are… we are what Jesus says we are. When we place our faith in Him the narrative changes, we are His and He will not let go of us.

Let’s remember the power of God in us through the Spirit He placed in us when we surrendered to Him.

“For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit. Now the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you.” Romans 8:5-11

To live is Christ.

I lead this song for the guys in prison and led it for our weekly recorded service (due to COVID-19) and I wanted to weep as I sang the words. I have sung these over and over and they hit home this week in a new and special way due to the conflict inside me. So thankful for the Lord’s reminder yet again to be led by His Spirit.

Get Out of Your Head ~ Week 2

“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

This week we are focusing on making a shift, changing our thinking. Paul was under house arrest when he was writing the the Philippians, He is going to show us how we can have the mind of Christ. As we read, listen, pray and focus on Jesus this week let’s apply the truth of God’s Word to change us and make the shift to Christ-like thinking.

For Week 2:

Philippians Bible Study

  • Complete Session 2 in the study guide
  • Watch Session 2: Making the Shift (on Study Gateway)

GOOYH Book

  • Read Chapters 4-6
  • Listen to ‘Made for This’ Podcast (Season 3) BONUS Episode: How to Stop Anxious Thoughts & BONUS Episode: Falling More in Love with Jesus with Annie J. Downs

Memorize Scripture (Continue to work on memorizing Philippians 2:5-11)

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11

Behind the Music ~ Freely Forgive

“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” Psalm 86:5

I was sitting at a Celebrate Recovery meeting at a friend’s church and during the lesson portion the teacher said something about how Jesus forgives freely. I scribbled the words freely forgive at the top of my paper and thought a song could come out of that. Not long after I sat down to write and looked through the scriptures and came upon Psalm 86. I pulled lots of lyrics out of that chapter. This song had a different vibe than the others and I waited to share it with “the world”, Johnny (one of my ministry partners) kept pestering me to post something about it on social media but I held my ground. This song is the only song with no piano or keyboard in it, I do, however, lead it in prisons on occasion with just the keyboard but it isn’t as good 😉

Somewhere along the way I thought a ukulele would be fun to add to the mix and asked my cousin’s teenage son, Joel, to play with us. My usual bass player played Djembe and acoustic guitar and vocalist Mark rounded out the team for a great sound. In the studio, the producer added an acoustic bass. Take a look at the lyrics and a listen to both a rehearsal and the final product.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus so freely forgives when we don’t deserve it? Call out to Him, He is listening and will answer you.

“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.” Psalm 86:3

“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.” Psalm 86:5-7

“All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.” Psalm 86:9

“Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.” Psalm 86:11-12

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.” Psalm 86:15-17

Freely Forgive

Verse 1
You bend Your ear to me, Lord
You hear me when I call
You give me Your salvation
My sins no more recall

Verse 2
Lord, You are good and steadfast
You listen to my prayer
You answer pleas for mercy
And keep me in Your care

Chorus
And You, show me Your grace
Lord, You give me Your mercy
And I, walk in Your light
‘Cause You, freely forgive
(repeat)

Verse 3
Give me Your strength to serve, Lord
Help me abide in You
You show me favor, O Lord
Your love and comfort proof

Verse 4
You teach me Your way, O Lord
That I may walk in truth
Your word revealed will unite
My heart to fear You

Bridge
Turn to me, be gracious, Lord
Hide away my shame
I will kneel and bow before You
And glorify Your name
(repeat)

©2016 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)

Behind the Music ~ The Holy One

“Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done.” Psalm 105: 1-5

My Celtic song! This song has that kind of feel. The above picture is of my Bible, Psalm 105 contains the majority of the lyrics for this song. The Psalms truly are songs just waiting to be put to music!

I started leading this song at Algoa Correctional Center and when I heard a hundred men singing at the top of their lungs “Great is his name, worthy of praise!”…it was really something special. These men praise the Lord with all their hearts and it overwhelms me, there are times I’d like to just stop singing and listen to them, I have on occasion. I really wanted to record their voices singing this song (especially the bridge) but I couldn’t get it worked out with the institution. So instead of 100 voices on the album you get to hear 4. My two sons sang some harmonies and melodies but on the chorus my producer recorded my youngest son singing it over again and again, stacking the vocals to create an awesome sound of men’s voices, Christian couldn’t return to sing again so I asked the electric guitar player sing, Sean is multi-talented 🙂 The 4th voice is my own of course, but I still think this song would best be sung by a big choir of men singing lots of parts. I am thankful for my sweet boys and their talents, they are gifted singers. I’m attaching 2 recordings, one of a fun rehearsal (unfortunately without Cameron) and the final product.

The Holy One

Verse 1
Give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name
Remember all He’s done, seek the Lord, His strength
PreChorus
Holy is He, Our God and King
Worship the Lord, let’s shout and sing
Chorus
The Holy One, the Holy One
Rejoice, He is the Way
Glory in His name
The Holy One, He is the Holy One
Exalt the Prince of Peace
Declare His majesty
Verse 2
Bless our mighty God, make known His deeds with praise
Tell of His marvelous works, shout with joy, proclaim
Bridge
Great is His name, Worthy of Praise
Lift your voice and sing
Almighty God, Lord over all
Worship Christ the King

©2016 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)

Get Back to Your First Love

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Revelation 2:4

This…this is hard to admit. This is difficult to swallow – have I abandoned my first love? Is this where my issues began? Not keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus? Not putting Him first? I don’t really know how it all began just that I came under attack and could not pull myself out. Was it the enemy? Was it my own selfishness? Whatever it was… it made me miserable. The thoughts crept in, the lies whispered in my ear were loud and my mind started believing them, dwelling on them and my emotions followed. And then the enemy’s attacks kept me despondent. I was numb, afraid, and felt more alone than I ever have before. And before I knew it, I was not waking up each day and getting on my knees, pouring over His Word, praying, worshiping… Oh, I was going through the motions and reading here and there but God felt distant. On Christmas day I cried off and on all afternoon because my kids went home early. And the lie was…I am unlovable and therefore, no one wants to spend time with me. Over the next couple weeks I grew even more agitated and lonely and really just wanted to be around “my people”, those people that would just love me regardless of how I was/am. My husband didn’t really know what to do with me except cherish me and he did it so well. With James’ prompting, I planned a trip to my old hometown to see my cousin and my aunt. My cousin got sick and I couldn’t go see her, I spent an extra day with my aunt and then James said I should check-in to a hotel for a couple days. I took him up on that request and read “Get Out of Your Head”, my Bible, cried, prayed, and cried some more. I did feel better, I realized that some of the things I was thinking were lies and I needed to apply truth to them. And I did. I knew the right answers but my heart was still hurting.

“The danger of toxic thinking is it produces an alternate reality, one in which distorted reasoning actually seems to make sense.” – Jennie Allen (Get Out of Your Head, page 24)

The last few months have been ugly. I’ve had good days but overwhelming bad ones that kept me from wanting to trust Jesus, to believing He loves me and wants to use me. I love Jesus, so very much. I am so grateful for His sacrifice and love for me. But lately, I have been feeling worthless, unlovable, and helpless. I have somewhat of a control issue and when something I love felt like it was being taken away from me I started to spiral out of control and the lies came creeping back in. These lies remained unconfessed and unchecked for months and the result was a several day meltdown that left me feeling even more dejected because now I have been found out, I have admitted that I am not as perfect as everyone thinks (I’m sure someone might have thought that, ha) and I felt like a big loser, a hypocrite, a terrible friend, and a lousy christian. As difficult as that was, I knew it was the beginning of my healing. James 5:16 tells us – confess your sins one to another so that you may be healed and I needed healed, I wanted to be healed of this torment that was going on in my mind and heart.

I would like to blame this whole thing on the enemy but if I’m really honest, I am prideful. Pride, pride, pride – my biggest sin. We do not want anyone to think less of us or to see the real us or to believe anything less than good about us and you know why? Because we’ve been hurt by others’ opinions and careless words. But this is when and where it is most important to lay down that pride because the Lord gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. I don’t want God to resist me, I desperately need His grace. His opinion is the only opinion that matters. What He thinks of us is what’s truly important. And I forget, I get caught up and wrapped up in many things and then I forget that His grace is for me too. And if I will just stop and remember the God I serve, that this world is not my home, and that He is so in control…I will be okay. It’s going to be okay! I have been reminded this week to remember my first love…Jesus. He is my delight and I am His!

“Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

Who cares about all of this other stuff? Even the good things that God calls us to and allows us to be a part of here on earth are going to end. His Kingdom lasts forever and I want to live running to it, running to Him over and over and over again. Focus on Jesus, set your mind on eternal things – Kingdom things, replace the lies with the truth of God’s Word, confess and be healed.

Take a listen to Jennie Allen’s podcast “Made For This” – Season 3: Bonus Episode “Your delight can’t be taken from you.” The first two chapters of Jennie’s book “Get Out of Your Head” are also included in this episode.

One more thing, music speaks…worship the Lord in song and run to the Father.

Get Out of Your Head ~ Week 1

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

It’s finally time to begin! I am incorporating the book and the Bible Study so even if you have one or the other you are going to get as much material and resources as I can throw at you, all for your benefit! And do not worry if you only have the book or only have the Bible Study, pour yourself into whatever you have at your fingertips.

Let me tell you that this can change your life, that God wants to do something in you. I know He does in me and is already working. The enemy is against us getting set free and I have had a rough time lately, I have been under attack like I don’t even know, so much so that I didn’t recognize myself. So, this tells me that this is worth it. Let’s not do this half way, let’s all dive in, get honest and real and be set free!

For Week 1: (This is the only week where we will start with the video first)

Philippians Bible Study:

  • Watch Session 1 Video (you can take notes on pg 29 of the study guide)
  • Complete Session 1 in the study guide

GOOYH Book

  • Read Chapters 1-3
  • Listen to ‘Made for This’ Podcast (Season 3) 01 – You are Not a Victim of Your Thoughts

We will have discussion on Zoom every Monday at 8:00pm and I will post questions in the FB Group for discussion on Mondays as well. We will keep each others’ stories and sharing confidential, we will rely on scripture for truth and we will not counsel each other. This is a place for confession, discovery and applying truth.

Listen on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher

Click here for more info! https://www.jennieallen.com/podcast

Behind the Music ~ I Marvel

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3-5

This song was so overwhelming to me that I wrote about it after I wrote it. So I posted those immediate thoughts below. This is a heavily requested and favorite song of those inside the razor wire and those on the outside as well.

When we get even the smallest glimpse of God’s love for us in sending His Son to die for our wickedness, we should marvel. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

When the bondage of sin no longer has a hold on us and we are made free, we should be astonished. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

When we realize the magnitude of His grace, we should be amazed. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

When we see that He not only saves us but changes us and then when we mess up that He still loves us and keeps us, we should be filled with wonder. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

I am still marveling at the cross of Christ.

From September 11, 2016: I wrote my 5th song yesterday…I’ve been walking around with the words I marvel in my head. Those are the only words I had prior to sitting down to write but I love the word marvel, Jesus used it, others used it. It means be filled with wonder, astonishment. The greatest thing that fills me with wonder and astonishment is the work of Christ on the cross for me, His sacrificial death, His resurrection…that’s what I marvel at. Why this perfect, Holy God would come to this cruel world, be mocked, rejected, and die a horrific death for you and for me when He really didn’t have to…He did it willingly because of His great love for us.  I can’t even begin to comprehend that kind of love and when in the tiniest way I try to understand it, it overwhelms me and I weep at the thought of it.  So as I wrote the lyrics to this song, I wept, I sobbed, I was overwhelmed…I hope I never get over Jesus dying for me.

I Marvel

Verse 1
The cross of calvary, You bore for me
You saved me from myself, from the enemy
You willingly took my place, You suffered, died, in disgrace
And through Your grace and mercy, You set me free

Chorus
And I marvel, at Your sacrifice
I’m filled with wonder, why You’d give Your life
For me, this sinner, why You bled and died
Your great love for me, I’m still amazed by
It astonishes me
How You saved me, how You changed me
A mystery
How You love me, how You keep me

Verse 2
To understand the cross of Christ, no one will know
God wrapped in flesh, crucified, the debt we owe
Holy Spirit, Father, Son, Almighty King, the Holy One
Died and rose again to give us hope

Verse 3
Life was given in Your glorious victory
My guilt and shame washed away in misery
You conquered darkness and the grave
What an awesome price You paid
And in You, risen Lord, gave me eternity!

©2016 Christy Hoagland (ASCAP Sing for the King Publishing)