Saturday, December 27, 2014

When The Road Is Long

Road Direction
Are you at a place in life where you don't know what to do? You've been working towards some goals but they just haven't happened yet. What do you do in times like this? There are plenty of bad habits and unhealthy coping mechanisms to turn to. But they won't make things better. They'll just leave you empty. You know this because you've tried before.

When the road is long with no end in sight, the desire to fill the loneliness and disappointment can be overwhelming. But there is One who knows your heart, sees your hurt, and wants good for you. Turn to Him and allow Him to fill you up, to breathe life into you, and to carry you in His hands.

He formed you and knows what lies ahead. Keep pressing on and don't give up hope for the good things you desire. Return again to the abundant life that is found in Him. The richness of time with Him will revive your spirit and restore your joy.

Don't let the enemy lie to you or prevent you from engaging with the Lord. He wants the best for you more than anyone else. Talk candidly with Him and ask Him about your present and future. As you listen, you'll hear His voice more and more clearly. It doesn't mean that there won’t be some challenging times ahead but you can rest securely in His promise that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” –Romans 8:28

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Thursday, December 25, 2014

What Child Is This?



This is a classical guitar style version of What Child Is This? (aka Greensleeves) that I learned many years ago. Enjoy!

Monday, December 08, 2014

Experience His Love and Grace

Chatahoochee River Sunset
Be so wrapped up in the love of Jesus that when you fall it's into His grace. Never wondering whether you're heading in the right direction. Confidently pick yourself up and run with perseverance the path marked out for you.

In that place and in that race there is immeasurable joy and a life of abundance. By his power and strength will you face the world and a future that holds the blessings of a heart fully in love with Him. Others will fall away and miss the blessing and hope found in Him. But not you.

Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Him and His plan for your life. He has not called you to something mediocre with mere temporary accomplishment or the praise of man. He wants you to walk with Him into something much deeper.

The grace of a life filled with His presence is vastly beyond all worldly wealth or fame. No house, relationship, vacation on the beach or mountain top chalet will ever give you more than the experience of knowing Him.

He is wilder than the wildest beast, more awe inspiring than the most vivid sunset. Matchless beyond anything that could try to compare. In Him is peace where there is chaos, love where there's loneliness, hope when all seems lost, joy in the midst of loss and sadness.

Lay your head on His chest and rest in the strength of His arms. He knows and loves you, child of the King. There's nothing that could come in the way of His love for you.

As the shepherd cares for the sheep, so He protects and watches over you. He gives you food to eat and water to drink. He restores your soul and rejuvenates your spirit, leading you beside quiet streams in the forest.

His creation is beautiful and you are the crowning achievement of it all. Don't let that fact escape or go unnoticed. He loves you more than you can imagine and desires beautiful things for you.

You are His child and of immense importance. Do you comprehend the depth of his love for you? Rest here and stay awhile. Give Him time to minister to your soul. Turn off the computer, the tv, the phone, the music. Sit and listen. Give Him space to build into your life. Receive His grace.

You are the one He loves and nothing could ever take you away from Him. His love never fails. Can't you see? Can't you see, what you mean to Him? He loved you before the world began and will never stop, His love will never fail.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Because He Lives


Because He Lives
by Bill and Gloria Gaither

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Monday, October 20, 2014

If The Devil Comes A Calling



This is my most recently written song. Written in a fun country style.

If The Devil Comes A Calling
by: Andrew Robert Allen

I've been pretty good at sinning I've got that figured out
There ain't too much that I've done you'd tell your mama bout
I'm really good at being bad everyone agrees
but who I was ain't who I am no I ain't the same me

So if the devil comes a calling tell him I'm not here
I've spent too many nights with him drowning all my fears
but now I'm friends with Jesus and we've got other plans
so if the devil comes a calling you can tell him I ain't here

I ain't too big on preachers you can bet I've had my doubts
but once I stopped to listen and finally heard him out
my rowdy days had run there course and that's the honest truth
cause when Jesus comes a calling what else can you do?

So if the devil comes a calling tell him I'm not here
I've spent too many nights with him drowning all my fears
but now I'm friends with Jesus and we've got other plans
so if the devil comes a calling you can tell him I ain't here

I'm not always perfect, sometimes I still fall
but Jesus has me covered when I'm up against a wall
You might shake your head or even laugh at me
but don't knock it till you try it cause then you just might sing

If the devil comes a calling tell him I'm not here
I've spent too many nights with him drowning all my fears
but now I'm friends with Jesus and we've got other plans
so if the devil comes a calling you can tell him I ain't here

Monday, October 06, 2014

Shooting Straight With God

Archer
Photo from Wikimedia

Have you ever experienced seasons of life where you're discontent with a job, a relationship (or lack thereof), living situation, unfulfilled hope, family, social life, health concern or just having a bad day? That should cover all of us. I've found that sometimes I'll turn something like this over and over in my mind and may passingly mention it when talking with God but don't really engage with him about it.


This could be due to functional distrust in Him, frustration that circumstances haven't changed, or even stubbornness or lack of taking action though there are steps that can be taken. I've found that it's best to just level with God and tell Him exactly how you feel about the situation. It's not like He doesn't already know but it allows you to be intellectually honest and get your thoughts and feelings on the table so that you can work through them with Him.

There can be a perception that we need to be pious anytime we approach God or talk to Him. And while we should absolutely have respect toward Him, He knows you at the depths of your soul so it's best to at least acknowledge where you're at so you can have an honest conversation and not just say nice little prayers from time to time. By doing so, you can get down to business and allow Him to guide and give you insight that you might not experience otherwise.

Be real and just shoot straight with God. Remember, He loves you more than you can imagine and wants you to experience life abundantly. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." -John 10:10

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Dialogue of Your Mind

What are the things your mind keeps returning to? Do they revolve around your job, family, social life, exercise, church, favorite sports team, hobby, TV show, movie, vacation, a song, worries and fears, hopes and dreams? 

The dialogue of your mind will determine your attitude and outlook on life. Choose carefully what you dwell on. Do you find your life filled with joy and hope? Keep it up! Is your emotional state one of negativity and depression? Somewhere in between? No mater where you’re at, choose joy and keep pinging your thoughts back to God’s best in your life.

If you have tough days, tell him about it. When you have good days, celebrate with and thank Him. By keeping the internal dialogue centered on conversation with God, He stays at the forefront of your life and you will more easily find yourself with joy no matter the circumstance.

 

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” -I Thessalonians 5:16-18

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Monday, September 01, 2014

Stewarding Songs

A few months ago I read something by Bethel Music on stewarding worship and songs. This struck me powerfully not only as a song writer and worship leader but as a way of thinking about life.

There are several accounts in the Bible of the parable Jesus told about the the man entrusting his servants with various amounts of money while he was on a trip. They steward this with varying levels of success. -Matthew 25:14-30

This parable applies so much to each of us in our lives today. God gifts each of us uniquely. Some are musicians, some are gifted athletically, administratively, with a business mind, relationally, with physical beauty, with intelligence, in the creative arts, in working with their hands, in leadership, encouragement, providing care, hospitality, and a host of other areas.

We need to steward these giftings well and not let them go to waste. Wayne Dyer is  famous for saying: "Don't die with your music still in you." As you think about this in context of stewardship of abilities and gifts, let your music play beautifully, without reservation, and jump at the chance to share your songs with the world. For some this will literally be music and for others it will be something like baking a cake, building a house, counseling a teenager, sharing beautiful photos you've experienced in nature, teaching a lesson, creating environments and experiences, taking care of people in need, or whatever your "music" is.

Step up to the microphone and share your song with the world. You sing it best, steward it well.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Better Not Bitter

Ever experienced disappointment, hope deferred, betrayal, abandonment, rejection, been gossiped about, criticism, envy, or a broken heart? That should cover most of us at least on some level. In these times, there can be a temptation to stew and allow bitterness to seep into your heart. But bitterness is a dangerous poison that will drain joy from your life.

It's in the tough times that we understand more deeply what we base our core being on. There is nothing wrong with grief and it can actually be a good thing in a healthy context. In these moments and/or seasons, allow yourself to express frustration but do it with people that can help you process it in a healthy way and keep your heart fixed on God.

By seeking Him even in the hardest parts of life you can focus on becoming a better you and not a bitter you. He says that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." -Deuteronomy 31:8

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Life's A Team Sport

You are uniquely gifted and people need you to do the things that you're best at. There can be a temptation to retreat into yourself when you hit bumps in life and not live out the things you're best at. Don't deprive the world of the awesomeness of you.

Life is going to throw you curveballs. Sometimes you'll hit them and sometimes you'll strikeout. Even when you strikeout, keep your head up and don't stay stuck in discouragement. Find a friend who can encourage you in the rough spots. Seek out happy places whether that be at a coffee shop, your living room, a baseball game, church, in the woods, at the beach, the mountains, or anything that brings a sparkle to your eye and a skip in your step.

There's a temptation to ask why and question what God's purpose is in the tough stuff. If we let them though, these can be some of the most intimacy building times with God. He created you with a purpose and knew you before the world began. Let Him love you and encourage you and spur you on in the things He's called you to. "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10

Life's a team sport and we need you playing at the top of your game. So get back in there and do the things that you're so good at.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Seek First

"Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you." -Matthew 6:33

Have you tried to fill yourself with things you think you want but not pursued God with all your heart? This will leave you discontent with where you are in life. He wants more for you and will give you all your heart desires if you seek Him first. The first to know your name, to see you, to delight in you. You are His child.

The enemy has stolen from you and attacked your heart and who the Father has made you to be. This is not His best for you. You were made for joy, to listen to His voice, and walk by His side. Nothing can compare to or separate you from His love, child of the King. Listen to His voice and rest in the goodness of His love.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Being You

"Today you are you, that’s truer than true. There’s no one alive who’s youer than you.” –Dr. Seuss

Do you ever look around and compare yourself to others? It can be tempting to evaluate your current life stage in comparison with friends, peers, neighbors, or family. This can lead to feeling less than, inadequate, behind, frustrated, or whatever other negative emotion that might be associated with the comparison trap.

There’s also a temptation in the other direction if you see someone that might be “behind” you to begin to feel smug, superior to, or better than. In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus gives a warning about this.

Rather than taking your queues from those around you, it’s far better to define yourself by how God sees you. Instead of comparing yourself to a neighbor or friend’s professional, social, family, physical, emotional, or spiritual life, celebrate their successes with them and keep pressing in to God’s identity and plans for you. He tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God gives each person unique giftings and abilities and opportunities to use them.

There is of course the practical side of evaluating areas of your life to identify things that need to change in a healthy way. But this should be done by prayerfully seeking what God would have for your life rather than done in comparison to someone else.

The world needs you to be the best you possible so step up in the areas that you thrive in. Don’t let unmet past hopes for present circumstances dominate your current attitude and future steps. Live fully where you’re at, always keeping your eyes on God’s best in each season.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Prepare the Way


Prepare the Way
By: Charlie Hall

Prepare the way
Prepare the way
Prepare the way of the Lord

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

You are the light of the world
You are the light of the world
You are the light of the world, Jesus

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

I want to fall in love with You
I want to fall in love with You If it's the only thing I do
If it's the only thing I do

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

You are the King of the earth
You are the King of the earth
You are the King of the earth, Jesus

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Friendship Hierarchy


The Friendship Hierarchy
“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.” –Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Everyone that you interact with falls somewhere within six levels of what is known as the friendship hierarchy. Understanding these levels helps in knowing what normal interactions will be with people in your life and to set appropriate expectations for the depth of the friendship.

Level 6: Strangers

 

These are people who are basically strangers to you. You don’t know their name and they don’t know yours. If you’ve ever crossed paths, it’s only in passing with virtually no conversation or interaction. From a depth of friendship perspective, people you dislike could fall in this category even if familiarity is greater.

Level 5: Acquaintances 

 In level 5, the person is an acquaintance but the depth of the friendship is primarily surface level. You both recognize each other and may or may not know each other's name. At social or professional events if you see each other you may talk but it will probably be very generally without delving into many details. If there are level 4 or higher people at the event, it’s more likely that you would seek them out.

Level 4: Casual Friends


A level 4 friend is someone that you know a bit beyond the surface. You may know details about their work, family, hobbies, interests, or other activities they’re involved in. Most co-workers will not move above this level though a few may be at level 3 or higher. At a social or professional event you would likely seek out their company to catch up on the latest in their life or work. It’s unlikely though that the two of you set up time with each other or connect outside of common events or activities.

Level 3: Good Friends


At level 3, things go deeper and as trust develops you may share more personal details with the friend whether that be dreams, goals, hopes, challenges, struggles, fears, doubts, etc. This is also a friend that you intentionally try to connect with. It could be via phone calls, text messages, emails, setting up lunch or dinner, playing sports together, doing hobbies, Bible study, or anything where you’re purposefully spending time with them. In the dating world, this would be a common level for someone that you’ve been going out with for a little while. People at this level and above are the most likely to pray for you especially if you specifically ask for prayer.

The desire to know and be known is inherent. Consequently, someone who lacks friends at level 3 and above will normally desire deeper community and connection in their life.

Level 2: Close Friends


Level 2 is similar to level 3 but these people have greater access to your life and know you at a fairly deep level. They know you well enough to give advice on major life decisions and will call you out if needed. When you need help or someone to have your back, these are the people that show up. If they’re not family by blood, they’re at a minimum the people that you do life with and may be even closer than some family members. More than likely you’ll be friends with them for a number of years.

Level 1: Intimate Friends 


Level 1 in the friendship hierarchy is the most intimate level. This person knows you inside and out. The good, bad, and ugly. They’ve seen you at your best and worst and have stuck with you through it all. You call them first when major life events occur whether to celebrate in successes or to provide support in difficulty. Most people will have no more than two or three level 1 people in their life. It could be a spouse, a parent, sibling, or a best friend. They will be trusted confidants for many years.

People will naturally move through the friendship hierarchy during your life and someone who’s currently a level 4 friend might move up the hierarchy if one or both of you intentionally seek the other out and pursue opportunities to spend time with each other.  Likewise, a level 2 or 3 friend could move back to a lower level. This doesn’t necessarily reflect negatively on the friendship; life has natural ebbs and flows that result in spending more or less time with people.

Understanding these levels allows you to evaluate if there are people you want to be more or less involved in your life and intentionally take steps toward that goal. It may be a professional relationship you’d like to grow, possibly an acquaintance you connected with and want to grow into something deeper, or even seeking out mentoring relationships whether being mentored or mentoring someone else.

Pray about people in your life and see if God wants you to pursue deeper levels of friendship with some or to set boundaries and limit access with others. On a spiritual level, intentionally pursue a deep relationship with Jesus. If you’ll let him, He’ll be your most intimate friend.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lord of the Dance

As I've thought about life with God, it can be in many ways like a dance. I've only been on the guy side of a dance so don't have experience with the following side. From a leading perspective, it's evident when a girl knows how to follow. As a queue is given to make the next move, a good follower will flow seamlessly to the next step.

In contrast, someone who is not a good follower sometimes tries to do her own thing which results in awkwardness on the dance floor. If she’ll allow herself to be led rather than making independent decisions, it's a much smoother experience for both. (This of course assumes the guy is a good leader)

Another aspect is that the more you dance with a person, the better you function and move together as a team. The various parts of the dance become more and more natural.

Similarly, in the dance of life, if we follow and allow God to lead us, it can be very natural and beautiful. You may not know what’s coming next but He will direct and lead you at just the right time into the next turn, step, or change in direction. The more you dance with Him, the more you’ll learn His queues and what He’d like you to do next.

When we try to make our own decisions, the dance becomes awkward. He will still dance with us but it results in a much different experience than He might have designed and can miss some of the beauty and mystery.

Throughout the dance of life, let the Lord of the dance lead and guide you in something beautiful.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Honor Your Father and Mother

"Honor your father and mother and mother which is the first commandment with a promise so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." -Ephesians 6:2-3


My mom is a great mama by any measure. She raised my brother and I during a 22 year maternity leave from her work as a school teacher. She's made thousands of meals, drove us to countless sports practices, music lessons, and church events. She celebrates when we have successes and helps talk through the tough stuff in life. Most of all she's our biggest prayer warrior and spends time talking with God on our behalf on a daily basis.

Something that has impressed me in addition to all of this is her honoring of her own parents. In their advanced years, health concerns have necessitated more assistance and she spends time with them multiple days a week, cooking for them, taking them to hair, dental, and doctor's appointments, filling prescriptions, helping with managing their house, and just sitting with them.

While she wants to spend time with and help them, it is certainly a sacrifice of time and energy. Retirement affords her the flexibility to do this but sometimes an elderly family member gets put in a nursing home without receiving visits very often and can be set to the side in their later years.

My mom's commitment to honoring her parents has been a great example of living out this passage from the Bible. She doesn't do it to receive recognition or accolades but I believe it pleases God when we honor our parents like she does. As we honor mamas around the world today, what's a way you can honor your parents?

As you think about that, listen to a song I wrote a couple years ago about mamas and share it with yours!


In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Path of Righteousness


©Andrew Allen Photography
“Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” –Proverbs 21:21

Righteousness is a path that is not easily walked. There are all kinds of things that can pull you down, cause you to stumble, or slip. Though it’s not always an easy path, it’s the best one resulting in greater joy, fewer regrets, and deeper fulfillment.


People may not understand why you’re seeking righteousness when it doesn’t make sense from a human perspective. That’s the reason recruiting others to journey with you is hugely beneficial. Mutual support and encouragement with fellow believers will help keep you on the path. 


The irony in pursuing the path of righteousness is that the enemy tries to bring you down even more and will attack you with intensity. 

It may be mostly on a spiritual level with increased temptation or negative thoughts entering your mind from seemingly out of the blue. Or it could be discouragement from others whether those that you don’t get along with or even people that you love and care for. Increased distractions from general busyness, media consumption, hobbies, social endeavors, and even church activities can pull you away from where God is leading you on the path.

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” -I Corinthians 10:12-13

Don’t be discouraged if you experience increased attacks, it probably means you are doing some great things for the kingdom of God. Preemptively pray and thank God for leading you in the path of righteousness and ask Him to strengthen you in the face of temptation. Be sure to put on your spiritual armor each day (Ephesians 6:11) and stay constantly vigilant. Memorizing scripture and singing or listening to worship music are great tools to guard against the arrows the enemy will fire at you.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

By My Side


By My Side by: Daniel Bashta
Though I walk through the valley for a time
You are there by my side
Though I am weak and there is no song to find
You are there by my side

You're my saving grace, prince of peace, forever by my side
You are in control over all I know, forever by my side
You're by my side, by my side, by my side

For a time though the trials they surround
You are there by my side
In the storms through the chaos I have found
You are here by my side

You're my saving grace, prince of peace, forever by my side
You are in control over all I know, forever by my side
You're by my side, by my side, by my side

I will not be shaken
I will not be moved

You're my saving grace, prince of peace, forever by my side
You are in control over all I know, forever by my side
You're by my side, by my side, by my side

Friday, March 07, 2014

The Father Cares for Me




The Father Cares for Me
By: Andrew Allen

Jesus ever present friend
Faithful Savior to the end
when trouble comes you hold my hand
and carry me again

You give the birds and the flowers
everything they need
in confidence I'll worry not
the Father cares for me

Fill me up renew my soul
Heal my heart and make me whole
Give me strength whatever comes
and help me carry on

You give the birds and the flowers
everything they need
in confidence I'll worry not
the Father cares for me

Lord I don't know where
you're gonna take me
but I know You're good

You give the birds and the flowers
everything they need
in confidence I'll worry not
the Father cares for me

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snowpocalypse Samaritans


Parking lot covered in snow and ice
"A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” -Luke 10:33-37
With Atlanta now undergoing round 2 of Snowpocalypse, I was reminded of round 1 a couple weeks back and the stories of people helping strangers whether through giving food, water, a place to stay, a ride back to their car, or other neighborly activities. Though many people went through some very difficult scenarios, as a whole, the Atlanta community really stepped up to the challenge. I hesitate to call it a natural disaster but there were similarities to what happens during a natural disaster. People dropped their protective personal bubble and helped others without expectation of anything in return.

In a way, it would be cool if things were more like that in every day life. Safety is always top of mind and bad apples in society unfortunately have sown distrust in strangers as a category. But at least for a couple days it was neat to see how people genuinely cared for each other and lived out the Good Samaritan parable in real life.

Always be careful and keep safety in mind but be conscious of the Holy Spirit if He prompts you to say something to or do something for a stranger. Sometimes He uses us to meet needs and be the hands and feet that answer people's prayers.

In pursuit of His best,

Andrew
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