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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's All About Perspective...


I woke up yesterday and was thinking about the annual spring flower market.  It was almost four months ago, but the memory came floating back like it was yesterday- all the sights and sounds, the rides and games, the children and laughter, the music and flowers.  This past spring I took one of my nieces along with me, as I enjoyed the evening with friends. It was an absolute delight seeing her young face light up on all the rides.  My favorite ride every year, however, is the spectacular ferris wheel!  When we walk below, the flower market is a buzzing town fair and can feel like a maze, so many colors and sensations catching the eye at every moment. It's hard to see much beyond a few yards, with herds of people milling about, and at every turn, a new spectacle of fun! But when we're lifted on the ferris wheel, it's as if time slows down and the world pauses. Suddenly I can see things I never saw before as I look below. The whole hurry of it all becomes minuscule and my perspective changes. The complete picture can be seen as we are lifted above. The entire play enacting simultaneously below my eyes. The dance of the evening moving in such a glorious display, almost in slow-motion, so that I can see the full landscape on the canvas under us. It's that moment I anticipate every year- the ferris wheel moment of seeing so much more than I can see on the mere ground. 

Most of us have memories of summertime fairs, riding the ferris wheel with friends (in the movies, it's often a freckled-faced 12 year-old-boy and darling 12 year-old-girl in braids, looking at one another starry-eyed, eating ice cream cones and letting the world spin around!) But that's not why I want to reminisce and bring back the ferris wheel moments.  Rather, I want to take a look at perspective, and how it changes everything.  Spring is long gone. Summer is almost past.  It's back-to-school time for all the children. Moms scurrying around, attempting to get backpacks filled with supplies and making sure children's pants don't have holes in the knees.  Vacations are wrapping up and soon the cicada sounds will soften as the autumn breeze comes in like a whisper. Here is one child, pictured below, ready to go back to school!  Pause and look at this photograph taken of a boy in El Salvador... Is it just whimsical, or is there a greater story being told through that chalk and his stance? What is this child's perspective? 



I do believe that this little boy has an incredible perspective, one from which I'd like to learn a thing or two. I don't know his story, I don't know from what struggles he has arrived at this point. I don't know his pain or his victories, but I can see that he has a perspective of hope and that hope carries us through many seasons. Isaiah 40:31 promises, "But those who HOPE in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  I have an inkling that this boy sees himself not as a victim, but rather a victor. He sees himself as one who soars, who overcomes, who dreams big dreams and is off to great adventures!  

To gain perspective on ourselves, on life, on the world...we first must gain true perspective on God. When we know the character of God and can see Him, we see the world, our lives, and everything in a whole new light. It is arresting when we finally rise above on that ferris wheel, gaining a true view of the landscape around us, and perceiving the plot unfolding. Let's be reminded of our God and His promises.  Here are just a few to take your breath away today:


"I am with you...I am your God. I will strengthen you; 
I will help you; I will uphold you." 
Isaiah 41:10

"The Lord your God Himself will fight for you."
Deuteronomy 3:2

"Ah, Lord God! It is You who have made the heavens and the earth 
by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for You."
Jeremiah 32:17

"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 
and you have been given fullness in Christ, 
Who is the head over every power and authority."
Colossians 2:9

"For it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you 
[energizing and creating in you the power and desire], 
both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight."
Philippians 2:13

"God's way is perfect.  All the Lord's promises prove true. 
He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection."
2 Samuel 22:31


Monday, August 18, 2014

Wars and Rumors of Wars...and the Word that Holds Us in One Piece (Giving True Peace)...


Sometimes it can be hard to keep the faith when the world seems to be falling apart at the seams, and the God who stitched it all together can feel so distant at times.  For many, the nightly news is hard to swallow, especially when our own personal lives are crashing down amidst all the turmoil...our little towers of Babel that we've built to feel at least some sense of power and security have fallen into shambles, leaving only rubble on the ground to search for what remnants might remain.  Earthquakes.  Tsunamis.  Planes literally disappearing in the sky.  Ebola outbreaks.  Jerusalem a war zone.  Christians being slaughtered in their homeland, the survivors, mere starving refugees, running for the hills.  Cities flooded with racial riots.  Economies collapsing.  Children being sold into modern day slavery.  AIDS ravaging some of the poorest communities in the world.  Cancer.  Gang violence.  Drug Addiction.  Terror threats.  Divorce.  Job loss.

What keeps you up at night?  I have a feeling it very likely is something I haven't even listed, for this just scrapes the surface of the iceberg...and underneath the waters lies a mammoth, gothic edifice of pain, struggle, and destruction.  So what do we do?  How do we respond?  How do we deal with this stack of cards called life, waking up to surprises we'd rather not have known as reality?  Do we hide our heads under our pillows in hopes that counting sheep might help us sleep at night?  Do we turn off our televisions, lose our smart phones, and try to "get off the grid" as the last survivor?  Do we cry out in desperation and anger, blaming God because He's the only one at whom we know to yell- and if He made this world, then He must be causing all of this?

Or maybe there's another way.  Another answer.  I was reading this morning in the Gospel according to Mark in the thirteenth chapter.  Jesus was speaking to His disciples, His closest of close friends, about the signs of the end of the age.  You may ask, "Have we reached the the end of days?"  Maybe.  Or maybe just the labor pangs.  The Son of Man spoke bluntly in Mark 13:32, "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  So my guess is as good as the apostle Paul's...is as good as the guy on the street corner...  We might as well stop guessing dates and times and start living.  But let us not just live to let the time pass by, rather let us live with a sense of urgency in these critical times we live in.  Live with a sense of Kingdom purpose, with eyes fixed on eternity and hearts bound in love for God and compassion for neighbor.  Live with a sense of understanding the times, as the great sons of Issachar so did during the beginning days of Israel's Kingdom- the days of King David (1 Chronicles 12:32).  In verses 7 and 8 Jesus speaks directly to his dearest comrades, Peter, James, John, and Andrew, "And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains."  Do these rumors of wars and natural disasters sound familiar in our day?  Have they advanced at all in frequency and intensity?  I'll leave you to ponder that...

The message that our Lord undoubtably wants to impart is this:  "Heaven and earth will pass away, BUT MY WORDS WILL NOT PASS AWAY." (Verse 31)  Heaven and earth will pass away- that is no small measure of peril and ruination!  Let's not miss part two in that statement, though! So what, in the face of this colossal collapse of everything we know as reality, shall last? The Word of God.  He spoke and the world existed. His Word gives live and sustains life.  His Word is eternal and everlasting. Forever. Unchangeable. Unshakable. Indestructible.  In a time and an age when so much is uncertain and everything is changing rapidly, wouldn't it be nice to find something that is lasting? A promise that is true forever. A hope that never fails.  A word which remains.  I know I cannot stop war. I cannot end famine or prevent earthquakes.  I cannot stop the global AIDS crisis or make human's hearts full of love instead of hate.  But I can play a part in His Kingdom and even make a dent in some of these cataclysms...only if my foundation is found in something that is true and lasting- and that foundation is THE WORD.  We cannot go out and impact the world for good if our hearts are not transformed by the Word.  Did you catch that? The Word is what will rebuild and revolutionize our hearts, so that we can change the world.

Psalm 84 is full of hope and promise, written by the sons of Korah- men who were keepers of the tent threshold, the tent where Yaweh dwelled.  They sing in verses 4-6, "Blessed are those who dwell in Your house, ever singing Your praise!  Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.  As they go through the Valley of Baca, thy make it a place of springs; the early rain also cover it with pools."  What was the Valley of Baca?  Baca means "to weep."  It also refers to a barren valley en route to Jerusalem, without water.  This Psalm, written by these warrior doorkeepers, shows us that praising God leads to a blessing of pools and refreshment.  The psalmists go on in verses 10-12, "For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.  O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!"  What an incredible promise right there!  When we are in the courts of the Lord, dwelling in Him and upon His Word, we have a sun and shield to guide and guard us!  As we do not know the day or the hour, let's not get wrapped up in analyzing that, but let us wrap our hearts around every moment we can spend praising and living according to His Word. Just one day being built up in the Word might just give strength for a thousand in the battle. "They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion," we read in verse 7.  From where does this continual strength come? It comes from appearing before God. Being in His presence.  How do we get closer to Him and be in His presence? The Word is a great place to begin!

So as we dwell on the Word, what do we find Jesus adjuring us to do when it comes to understanding the times and the signs of the end of the age?  Our God does not leave us without a roadmap in this desolate land and on this often lonesome journey.  He charges, "Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come." (Repetition makes a point here- we do not know the time or day).  "It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake." (Ah, the sons of Korah, the psalmists, were doorkeepers at the house of God!  We might again remember their words in Psalm 84 and learn from them!) "Therefore stay awake- for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake." (Mark 13:33-37).

There we have it.  Our Lord not only was speaking to Andrew, Peter, James, and John. He was speaking to ALL. He spoke to us.  To you and to me.  And He still speaks today.  Stay awake.  Be vigilant.  Dig into the Word.  From the spring of truth found in the Word, take heart and go out into the world, carrying seeds of life-changing hope.  When you are at a loss and don't know what to do or where to turn, go into the House of God and praise.  Be a watcher in the night.  Don't look to the changing winds outside or the answers from the internet to understand the times- look to the Ancient of Days and His Word- our eternal anchor.  Be a Word-dweller,  and a world-impactor.  There's a whole life to live and a great calling to carry!

 

Friday, August 15, 2014

#SingOverUs - Press Release!



Caitlin Jane announces her brand new music video, “Sing Over Us,” officially released July 21, 2014.  Jessica Christine Ferraro (director/producer) and James Knightly Films (www.jamesknightly.com) have created an extraordinary video just over 4 minutes long that could resurrect a new wave of music videos celebrating fine artistry and quality.  The great Russian novelist, Dostoevsky, penned, “Beauty will save the world.” Beauty itself may very well be the one essential element in a hurt and lost generation with the power to save—and “Sing Over Us” is nothing short of rare beauty expressed through film and song. Quite simply, it celebrates life and is a picture of the Creator of Life delighting in His children. While in the Dominican Republic, Caitlin Jane composed the song in her journal, compelled by the incredible experience of meeting her Compassion sponsor child, Wanda. The Scripture passage in Zephaniah 3:17 flooded her thoughts as she reflected on this poignant encounter—seeing firsthand how God brings promise to His beloved children.


As a rising voice on the Christian music stage, Caitlin Jane has a unique presence – offering not only amazing gifts of poetic songwriting and performance, but delivering with these a passionate message of hope in a broken world.  “The emotion in her music and depth of her lyrics make Caitlin Jane one of the most gripping Christian artists today,” commented Ray Ruddy (President, Gerard Health Foundation/Life Prizes).  With an eclectic mix of piano-driven pop tunes, guitar-based melodies, and soul-filled strings interwoven through her songs, Caitlin’s pure and rich vocals have a similar resonance to such timeless singers as Sarah McLachlan and Natalie Merchant.  Caitlin Jane has opened for Todd Agnew and BarlowGirl and has toured nationally and internationally, performing at a wide variety of venues including Creation Northeast.  Relating to audiences young and old alike, she’s led worship for many churches and conferences throughout the country.


           Her most recent debut, the whimsical, and visually-stunning music video, “Sing Over Us” (July 2014), embodies the heart she’s poured into child advocacy for over 10 years now through Compassion International, having visited five of her sponsor children on three separate continents.  Using her powerful voice, she champions the cause of those who are voiceless—the poor, the lost, the least of these. Prior to “Sing Over Us,” Caitlin Jane released two albums, Ashes into Beauty EP (2007) and Coming Season (2011), as well as an award-winning, internationally reaching music video celebrating the sanctity of life, “Unborn” and the Unborn: Please Keep Me DVD (2012).  Caitlin shares, “Music transcends the barriers we encounter when communicating truth and faith...If I want to be authentic, then Christ must be at the center of everything I do. I pray I never compromise on this. I want to praise God, who has captured my heart, with every breath I take.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Alison's Choice - some miracles in the making...and something GOOD coming from Hollywood!


Almost one year ago I happened to get connected with a filmmaker in Hollywood and began to build a friendship with him and his team…Some would call it coincidence, but I call it providence (for more reasons than one). A woman named Kim, from his team, contacted me after stumbling upon “Unborn” online, requesting to use the music video to help promote their new film-in-the-making, Alison’s Choice.  It sounded like a great project, so I gave an enthusiastic "Yes!".  She told me that Marchiano Ministries was putting the film together. It seemed to ring a bell, but I didn’t think much of it. When my mom got wind of the film, though, she exclaimed, “Caitlin, that’s Bruce Marchiano! The one who played Jesus in The Gospel of Matthew series!”  

I was astonished! This was a series I grew up watching- word for word from Scripture, the Gospel story according to Matthew. The actor who played the role of Jesus, Bruce Marchiano, was so authentic and real, capturing the very heart of Christ’s passion, power, and grace.  Watching that series was like seeing the melding of divinity and humanity in Jesus' life played out on screen in a unique and beautiful way (it’s no easy job playing the very Son of God!) That series greatly impacted my young faith and drew me into the mystery and wonder of the Gospel. And here, Bruce was wanting to use my music video to help promote his new film?  What an incredible honor!  And how appropriate for the man who played the role of Jesus to now be making a movie that will be used soon in the saving of many little lives- for so dear to Jesus Christ is the plight of children. Our Lord declared emphatically to his followers, “Let the little children come to me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  


So over the past several months, I have been proud to promote Alison’s Choice, and right now I am bubbling over with joy as I share how excited I am about this film. (Yes, I’ve gotten a sneak peak at the script, and it is going to be AMAZING!). I’ve seen Bruce Marchiano’s heart and I've gotten to know some others on his film support team...This man and his crew are sold out for Christ and live such humble, honest lives before the King…seeking only to glorify Him through this project and to save those precious, precious lives of unborn babies who are at risk every single second, every single day…

So right now, I ask you...will you join us? Yes, I'm asking YOU to JOIN the team to make this film a reality! There are not many days left for fundraising, but every penny counts. Yes, every penny!  Filming starts in October, and before then, let's bust down the doors and flood the film with the biggest generosity possible...so that all the Alisons out there have a chance to choose life...and all the unnamed, unknown beautiful babies will be NAMED and KNOWN by their families and the world just as God created and intended and ordained them to be.

Please visit: www.alisonschoice.com today & GIVE. Give something. I promise you, if there's one film in hollywood that has authenticity and heart behind it this next year, it will be #AlisonsChoice!

THANK YOU FOR JOINING THE TEAM OF LIFE-SAVERS!  -Caitlin Jane