“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1b-3
2020 put a different kind of pressure on me as a songwriter. As a creative person and especially as someone who wants to help give other people truth to sing to God, I felt a responsibility to show up more than ever and write songs that could help us all make sense of what was happening. Some of what I felt was good and inspired me to be more vigilant and aware, but some of it was toxic and translated to a lot of striving and overthinking.
At one point early on in our quarantine, I remember sitting on the floor in my closet (which is not an inspiring space) with my guitar, our 4 kids raging just outside our bedroom door, Kerri and I about to lose our minds, and there I was feeling all the pressure to come through with “THE” song that would heal the world.
I don’t have to tell you that nothing good came from my closet sessions. I had too much of myself and my ego wrapped up in that moment to do anything good for anyone else. It took some time but eventually I put my phone down, stopped watching what everyone else was doing, and decided to just embrace the slow down.
I started going for walks with my kids and sitting on our front porch with my wife. I started reading way more. I turned 37 and celebrated with friends as they drove by our house to wish me a happy birthday at a distance. Most importantly I took Jesus up on His invitation to come and just be with Him.
As my calendar slowly cleared, so did my headspace.
“Breakthrough Miracle Power” came to me through my friend Jon around this time. Patrick Mayberry and Bede Benjamin-Korporaal had written a good bit of the song already and it just about knocked me over the first time I heard it. In a season of uncertainty, these lyrics were calling us back to something solid.
After sitting with it for a bit, this little refrain came out while I was sitting at the piano one day…
As long as you’re in it
The story’s not finished
I know you’ve overcome
So I know I’ll overcome
Wrapped up in this simple bridge was a truth I had re-learned after a complicated few months: Jesus is the author of the story, and He’s a really good writer. Our prayer for you is that through the truth in this song, you will remember who you’re singing to and what He’s capable of. He is the Overcomer, and we are beneficiaries of His victory.
So… “let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”
– Kristian Stanfill
When you read the account of Jesus’ life in Scripture, it’s clear that His heart was moved most of all by people’s faith. Everywhere He went He was on the lookout for those who truly believed He was the Messiah sent from God. All authority and power was His and when that power collided with genuine faith, miracles happened. It’s like the centurion in Matthew 8 —
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith….Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
This centurion had a desperate need and came to Jesus KNOWING that Jesus could meet that need. He knew he was talking with someone who had ultimate authority and power. He knew that with just a word, Jesus could do whatever he wanted to do. His faith moved Jesus’ heart and stirred the miraculous into action.
This kind of faith is at the heart of what we’re singing about. It’s calling us to remember and believe that anything is possible when Jesus is in the equation. Whatever your mountain is and whatever it is that imprisons you, Jesus is the one who has the power and the keys to move the mountain and unlock the door. Miracles are possible, freedom is possible, breakthrough is possible — in Jesus’ name. There’s nothing that our God can’t do.
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 NIV
Have you ever swam underwater with goggles? I’ll never forget the first time I did. Growing up in Florida, I was in the water more than dry land it seemed. We were coastal kids. Pools, lakes, and ocean fronts were our playground. One summer afternoon, my dad came through the door with a few pairs of goggles. Not the Olympic swimmer kind that look like glasses from the future (or maybe the past). These were the ones that cover your whole face with a snorkel strapped to the side. He tossed them to my brother, sister, and me, and we all made a mad dash for the pool. With the goggles “suctioned cupped” to my face, I jumped. My body took its’ instinctual cannon ball shape and before I knew it, I was underwater. I had done this thousands of times before, but this time it was different. I could see. Clear as day. It was a whole new world. Well, it had always been there, but now I could see it.
Jesus, grilled by the Pharisees on when the kingdom of God would come, answered, “The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, ‘Look here!’ or, ‘There it is!’ And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you.” Luke 17: 20-21 MSG
The kingdom of God is what Jesus spent most of His time talking about. And according to Him, it is here. RIGHT NOW. But oftentimes, like these Pharisees, we see what we want to see, don’t we? I know I do. Here’s the thing, the ministry of Jesus wasn’t about giving us 20/20 vision, it was about giving us sight. Jesus was trying to teach us to partner with God’s eyes. He was trying to wake us up to a whole new way of thinking, seeing, living and perceiving. Maybe the sacredness of something is only limited by our ability to see it. Maybe instead of looking for what’s not here we should stare long enough to see what’s actually here. If we have anything to learn from the Pharisees, it’s that we can stare God in the face and have absolutely no idea we are doing so.
As followers of Jesus, we don’t get to know the details of every chapter of this story, but we do get to know the ending. In case you need a refresher on the plot line, the arc of redemption is long, but it ends in glory! So, the way we view our life right now has got to be informed by where we believe this is all going.You see, Jesus wasn’t only trying to get you into heaven, He was also trying to get heaven into you.
Why should my heart grow weary? / Don’t be so downcast o my soul
You are in every moment / You are my greatest miracle
Jesus, take the beauty from the pain / Jesus, lift these weary hands again
Turn the silence into songs of praise / Jesus I am leaning on Your name
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. Psalm 90:1-2 NASB
We’ve all experienced a circumstance with failed expectations. The plan gone awry, the unexpected call with bad news, or that person that couldn’t come through. It’s easy for us to recognize that we can’t count on the material, but maybe not as easy to remember the other side of that — the reality of something everlasting. It’s not a “fairy-tale-happily-ever-after” kind of everlasting, but an eternal and everlasting reality in the deepest, most secure, meaningful and powerful way imaginable.
God has created this world and everything in it. He created each of our hearts and sustains the breath of all living things. If there is anything or anyone worth trusting, it would be the God who was there before everything we’ve ever known or seen.
The eternal God sacrificed His own Son for our sin — when we were still His enemies! Jesus lived perfectly among us, took our sin for us as He died, and to our great joy rose again to offer us new life. He was the only sacrifice that could span all of time.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? Psalm 27:1 NASB
He is the Everlasting One, and He specializes in bringing beauty out of pain, lifting weary hands, and drawing out songs of praise. He is trustworthy when things make sense to us and when they don’t. God is a place of refuge, a place of safety (Ps. 57:1-2), and a source of comfort and hope (Ps. 16:11; Phil. 1:6). We are promised that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39), that He is faithful (1 Cor. 1:9), strong (2 Thess. 3:3) and always working (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28).
Oh, I’m confident that nothing can ever separate us from God’s great love /
Neither death, nor life, no power on earth You promised us / I’m leaning on You
Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes, or clothes online, and started noticing ads for those things everywhere you looked? The more we see something, the more likely we are to end up buying it. It’s crazy! It matters what we look at, because we become what we behold. There are some days where we need to adjust our vision. We need to look up and fix our eyes on someone greater than ourselves.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
Psalm 121:1 NIV
Psalm 121 asks the question, “where does my help come from?” In the days of the kings, Jerusalem would have been surrounded by shrines to man-made gods. The leaders of the nation had lost sight of who God was, and they chose to worship false gods. The psalmist is saying, when I look around at these idols for help, I come up empty-handed. These lesser gods can’t really help me out. Relationships won’t satisfy my soul. Money won’t fix all my problems. New ideas or a political party won’t help me at the deepest levels of my life. Because these false gods don’t bring peace to the soul, the psalmist then says —
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:2 NIV
Psalm 24 tells us that our God is the King of glory, the Lord strong and mighty. Jesus is the King over all eternity. He can do what no man-made thought, idea, or creation could ever do. Jesus died and rose again to rescue us and bring our souls to life. He is a mighty King who is on a mission to push back the darkness and breathe life into the hearts of people all over planet earth. As a church, we want to fix our eyes on Jesus. We want to raise our sense of expectation, because our King is great and He is on the move. We will become like the One we behold and reflect His glory to the world.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Ps 24:8 NIV
So, wherever you are today, look up. There is a King of glory and He’s coming for you. He alone can rescue you and bring peace to your soul. He is on a mission to rescue the world, and He wants to invite you in to be a part of it.
God has always been a Way Maker. In Genesis, we can see the pattern of God saving His people and working on their behalf at all times. In the garden after the fall, God provides a covering for Adam and Eve and a promise of a future hope. He told Noah to build an ark that would save his family and the animals from the flood. When Abraham went to lay Isaac on the alter, God provided a ram to be the sacrifice. When Joseph was kidnapped, enslaved and imprisoned, God still had a plan. In a roundabout way, God raised Joseph to a place of power and authority that provided rescue and made a place for the house of Israel in the years of famine. When Moses led the nation of Israel out of Egypt, God parted the waters of the Red Sea and led them to the land of promise.
As believers, on our own journey toward the promise of God, we can find ourselves in the space between our former captivity and the land of promise. For many of us, we are standing on the shores of the Red Sea with an insurmountable road block and the enemy at our back. Even still, God is faithful to make a way for us to live in freedom and to accomplish His purposes in the world.
Jesus said in John 14:6 (NASB) —
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Ultimately, Jesus died and rose again to make a way for all of us to be reconnected in a relationship with our Heavenly Father. He has invited us to be a part of what He is doing in the world and He has given us the power through His Spirit to accomplish it.
Jesus is the one who makes the way. All He requires from us is our faith. Every step we take we are trusting and believing that God is who He says He is, and He will do what He says He will do. Wherever you are today, whatever miracle you need, bring that to Jesus. Lay it before the Way Maker and trust that He is working on your behalf to bring you hope and peace.
Like the nation of Israel on the other side of the Red Sea, when you see Jesus move and work in your life, respond with joy and gratitude. Let worship be our response to the power of God in our lives.
If you’ve remotely glanced at the book of Psalms, you know that praising God is a major theme.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise!
Psalm 100:4 NIV
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!
Psalm 47:6 NIV
Then you have a slam-bang finish with the psalm of all praise psalms, Psalm 150, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
Why would David, the author of roughly half the psalms, put such an emphasis on praising God? I think it’s because he knew that what we focus on determines our thoughts. And our thoughts determine the direction of our lives. What we look at is what we steer toward. Take Psalm 108:1-4 for example—
My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
David was fixed on praising God. He was fixed on praising God not because he had his perfect wife or dream job, or never suffered, or because life always went his way. It was a choice he made. He said, “My heart is steadfast!” To be steadfast means to be firmly fixed in place, fixed in direction, unwavering, not shakeable. David was set on praising God and nothing would distract him from that. He said in verses 1-3,
“I will sing and make melody with all my being!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O Lord!
I will sing praises to You among the nations.”
Why would David do this? Why would he praise God in spite of circumstances and weaknesses and struggles? And why should we? Take one more look at the end of the passage from Psalm 108 —
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Why should we praise Him? Because His love and faithfulness will never fail us! Our circumstances will change but our God remains the same. His character is sure. His love is certain. His heart is for us and His plans are good! He is worthy of all praise and all glory! Therefore, I will praise Him!
Wherever You lead me
Whatever it costs me
All I want is You
Jesus, all I want is You
—Follow You Anywhere
We are all trying to figure out where we are going in life. Whether you have your dream job or not, it seems like we are constantly faced with the looming question, “What are you going to do with your life?” It’s really easy to think that we will be truly satisfied when we find the right job or career.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus invited a group of fishermen to go back out after an unsuccessful night at sea. When they recast their nets, immediately their boats were overflowing with fish. More than the blessing, these fishermen were so in awe of Jesus and what He was able to do. They were humbled because God was standing in their presence.
Then, Jesus said two of the most life-changing words, “Follow Me.” Jesus invited them to be in a relationship with God. They were so compelled by who Jesus was, they left everything, including their business, and followed him.
You see, our primary calling in life is to follow Jesus. This calling is to die to ourselves and our way, and embrace Jesus and His way. When you see and experience the love of Jesus, you realize, He is worth our everything. The benefits of knowing Jesus far outweigh the costs. In Him, we find true satisfaction for our souls. We can deal with disappointments and setbacks, because through it all, Jesus is walking with us.
As we follow Jesus, He promises to give us a role to play. He said, “I will make you become fishers of men.” He invites us to be a part of what He is doing on the earth. Our job is to follow Jesus, it’s His job to make us into whatever He wants us to be. We just need to be open and available. As we follow Him, we can trust that at just the right time, He will bring about His purposes and plans for our lives.
And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
– Brett Younker
I throw all my cares before You
My doubts and fears don’t scare You
You’re bigger than I thought You were
-Bigger Than I Thought You Were
There is a very beautiful and challenging story found in Mark 9 starting with verse 14. It’s about a man who is trying to get his son some much needed help. Help that could only come from Jesus. You should read it. I’ll wait…
Ok, you probably have loads of questions after reading a story like that. Good. So do I. After meditating on this story, here are the two things that left me compelled and encouraged.
1) Put yourself in the shoes of this father. His son is in really, really bad shape. This man has got to be gripped with all sorts of fears and questions and possibly some anger or doubt; all the kinds of things that life has a way of throwing at us. But, instead of running away from God with all those things, he ran straight towards Him. He threw it all at the feet of Jesus. Even his honest faith. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” verse 24.
2) Jesus doesn’t turn him away. Not only did Jesus heal the boy, but He also helped the father surrender. In the Kingdom of God, surrender always leads to freedom.
Are there hurts, fears or doubts in your life that cause you to run away from Jesus instead of towards Him? Don’t be afraid. He won’t turn you away. He’s bigger than that. The King is on your side. Surrender it all. Find your freedom.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
written by Sean Curran
You’re the God who makes the giants fall
You bring down the walls of Jericho
You’re the God who gives the miracle
-More To Come
Remembering is a powerful thing. We are not promised every day will be the brightest and the best. We are living in a world broken by sin and filled with pain and heartache. In fact, I’m willing to bet that each and every one of us reading this right now have been disappointed, heartbroken, let down or walked through the valley of the shadow of death at some point in life. As sons and daughters of the living God, these are the times when remembering is crucial.
Our God has a perfect track record. He has never broken a promise and has never failed to keep His word. His ways are trustworthy and His heart is good. We can look back through scripture and see all the ways that He has been a deliverer, provider, protector, guide and Savior to His people. We can even look back on our own lives and see how His hands have held us, protected us and led us through desert seasons. These moments and miracles are markers. They are rocks of remembrance that we return to when we find ourselves in the fight of our lives wondering if He is with us. It’s God’s past faithfulness that gives us confidence for today and for whatever lies ahead.
Lift your eyes today and remember the God who holds you. He is good. He is powerful. He is near. He does come through. He is sovereign over all. He has a plan. He is Lord. He is not done. There is more to come.
Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve You.
written by: Kristian Stanfill
Photos by: Austin Bell + Brooke Bennett