Just Say Yes

by Christy Hoagland

I was standing in a prison gymnasium last Saturday quietly playing while man after man left their seats to repent, believe, and profess faith in Jesus at the back of the room and as they were gathering around to pray I was overcome with the faithfulness and goodness of God. And I said to myself “Christy, you could’ve missed this.”

I could’ve been content just singing on the worship team at my church, leading a song here and there and doing Bible studies and many other “good” things but… still missed out on the best things God has for me to see and to witness and to experience. Don’t get me wrong, going to church, preaching, leading worship, serving, it is all part of what God calls us to but that is only the beginning and if that is all we do then we stay stuck, we stay in our places and don’t venture out to share our faith, love the unlovable, and go to where God has called us and do what God has called us.

For me it has been a process in my Christian walk, obedience to say yes when prompted and no to other things. And I have done both; the “nos” to obedience to God keep us stuck and the “yeses” set us free and help us focus on what really matters. Obedience to Jesus keeps us from settling, as Jennie Allen would say “I almost settled for a wasted life” (Johnny quotes that all the time now); if we are honest we have all been in seasons where we look back and wonder where the last month, year or years went and if there was any meaning or significance in it. This is what I fear most, living a life of insignificance as a follower of Jesus. As myself, I am insignificant but in Christ – so much more. Thankfully I serve a pursuing God that has given me His Spirit to prod my heart to a better way to live.

I’d like to share just a few of the promptings God put in my heart that has led me to today – to this precious ministry of worshiping with and leading the incarcerated in music, the Word, and so much more.

2013 – My “anything prayer” *(Anything You want me to do, Lord, I’ll do it for You) and the challenge to risk… honestly, the details don’t really matter but I took a risk and said yes to something and God started growing me into a worship leader.

2013 – A simple meeting in a church hallway with an ex-offender. From this point on God would use this ex-offender to become my encourager, my friend, my ministry partner and more

2013 (December) – First prison concert at Algoa Correctional Center

2014 – Ladies Jail Ministry at Pettis County Jail

2015 – Began courses at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for a certificate in Worship Ministry.

2015 (November) – First service at Algoa Correctional Center with my husband (we then started the Volunteer process)

2016 (March/April) – First songs written (Be Still, Sing for the King, Great is Your Faithfulness)

2016 (May) – Sing for the King Ministries was born

2016 (July) – Quit my full time job to do ministry full time. This was a big yes, a difficult thing to lay down because it required faith for God to provide for us.

2016 – Present – God has taken the yes of serving the incarcerated from a once a week and a handful of services here and there to close to 200 services inside prisons and other services outside prison walls.

If you are tired and weary and wondering if there’s more to life than what you’ve been living, let me tell you that there is and so much more than you could possibly imagine. Just say yes to Jesus and He will show you great and marvelous things, He will give your life meaning and purpose and you will never be the same. Surrendered and sold out is the best way to live life. All it really takes is one yes after another, the first being surrendering your life to Jesus and then trusting Him to lead the way. Then the next yes and the next and sometimes a no along the way to keep you on your “yes path” of obedience.

Serving my Creator, life-sustainer, Savior and King is my greatest joy and sometimes I get overwhelmed that He would call me and use me like He is. Can’t wait to see what’s next…

In the meantime, I’ll just say yes.

(I hadn’t intended to use this song but as I was writing this post this song popped in my head so I have to share. It brings tears almost every time I hear it.)

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8


Photo at top – Photo Credit: Taylor Hoos

*Anything by Jennie Allen

What’s Up with Reckless Love?

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By Christy Hoagland

Reckless Love? What does that mean? Why? How? Huh? Who? Whutty?

I have tried to wrap my head around one of the hottest new worship songs out right now.  The song ‘Reckless Love’ by Cory Asbury is everywhere or nowhere it seems.  Do people really love it or hate it?  Is it the “sloppy wet kiss” controversy all over again?  Well, agree or disagree…here are my thoughts.

Definition(s):

Dictionary.com –

adjective: reckless
  1. (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.
    “reckless driving”
    synonyms: rashcarelessthoughtlessheedlessunheedinghasty, overhasty, precipitateprecipitousimpetuousimpulsivedaredevildevil-may-care;

    irresponsiblefoolhardyaudaciousoveradventurous;
    ill-advisedinjudiciousmadcapimprudentunwiseill-considered;
    informalkamikaze;
    literarytemerarious
    “reckless driving”

Merriam-Webster –

Definition of Reckless 

1marked by lack of proper caution careless of consequences

And just for kicks….

Urban Dictionary –

-1 a person whos actions are putting the people around him in harms way

2- acting very stupid

3- in a state of dangerous stupidity

 

We can throw out some of those…but can we all agree that basically being reckless means not caring about the consequences?

The first and last line of the chorus: “Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”

Overwhelming – very great in amount, very strong.

Never-ending – (I know this isn’t necessary) endless.

I think both overwhelming and never-ending are proper descriptive words for God’s love.  I just don’t think reckless quite fits.  Now before you freak out, let’s look at Cory’s reasoning behind using the word reckless.

“Many have asked me for clarity on the phrase, “reckless love”. Many have wondered why I’d use a “negative” word to describe God. I’ve taken some time to write out my thoughts here. I hope it brings answers to your questions. But more than that, I hope it brings you into an encounter with the wildness of His love.

When I use the phrase, “the reckless love of God”, I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. What I mean is this: He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being. His love isn’t crafty or slick. It’s not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it’s quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return.

His love leaves the ninety-nine to find the one every time. To many practical adults, that’s a foolish concept. “But what if he loses the ninety-nine in search of the one?” What if? Finding that one lost sheep is, and will always be, supremely important.

His love isn’t cautious. No, it’s a love that sent His Own Son to die a gruesome death on a cross. There’s no “Plan B” with the love of God. He gives His heart so completely, so preposterously, that if refused, most would consider it irreparably broken. Yet He gives Himself away again. The recklessness of His love is seen most clearly in this – it gets Him hurt over and over. Make no mistake, our sin pains His heart. And “70 times 7” is a lot of times to have Your heart broken. Yet He opens up and allows us in every time. His love saw you when you hated Him – when all logic said, “They’ll reject me”, He said, “I don’t care if it kills me. I’m laying My heart on the line.”

To get personal, His love saw me, a broken down kid with regret as deep as the ocean; My innocence and youth poured out like water. Yet, He saw fit to use me for His kingdom because He’s just that kind. I didn’t earn it and I sure as heck don’t deserve it, but He’s just that good. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” – Cory Asbury (Facebook post – June 14, 2017)

If you are a songwriter declaring who God is then your lyrics are so important.  Many have asked for clarity…ok? Does this mean if I lead this song at my church or other venue then I need to give an explanation every time because the lyrics aren’t clear? Eh…

I appreciate Cory sharing his heart and I really do love so much of this song but I don’t think you can separate God from His love.  I don’t think we can say or sing that God’s love is reckless but God Himself isn’t reckless… because His Word says that God is Love!  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 esv Actually, just read all of 1 John 4…so good! Perfect love!  How about John 3:16, Galatians 2:20?  I believe that God is Perfect, Sovereign, Holy, and completely in control; He knows exactly what He is doing, He knew exactly what the cost was when He came to die for us.  I think our “humanness” makes us see this as reckless.  And I think too many of our worship songs today try to humanize God and we just don’t sing enough about His Holiness.  And perhaps that’s partly because we can’t even begin to understand all the miraculous and marvelous things about God, His grace, His forgiveness, and His perfect love for us.

So…sing reckless love or not, I won’t condemn you 😉  I’m planning on leading it this Friday night in prison but I’m going to change one word…to Perfect.

Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, perfect love of God

And you know what else?  I think I’d like my love for Jesus to be reckless…”careless of consequences”, I believe this is what He’s called us to and it still doesn’t begin to compare with how He loves us. Oh how He loves us…