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Jesus is the most inclusive guy you’ve ever met

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  Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash "'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' (John 14:6 NIV). At first glance, this seems overly exclusive. Jesus is the only way? But on further inspection, we find that Jesus' offer is quite unique from other religions and, in fact, incredibly inclusive." --Louie Giglio Jesus of Nazareth was from a small town, likely learned his father's trade as a carpinter, and lived in relative obscurity until about age 30.  His public ministry lasted about 3 years.  That's about 1000 days, and in that short time, he inspired about 120 folks to become committed followers. Within about 6 months of his death and burial and resurrection, his followers' numbers swelled to well over 3000 committed followers.  In about two generations the mediterrean cities had certainly heard of the Christ, and within a decade his followers earned a new name, "Christiani",

Self: Songs for the Hardest Times

I have some songs to share with you, and before I do, I'd like to offer you a reflection and some context.

Reflections led me to share

I sat down to spend time with God recently, and I realized that some songs that I practically needed in order to start the day or make it through the day are not as enjoyable to me, because that season has passed.  I wondered if I'd ever enjoy them again, then I reflected on the cost of just dismissing these songs from service.  I nodded no.  "I need to share these songs!  Someone out there is going through their lowest lows... These songs might minister to them, or help restore their faith, or bring them to faith for the first time." I have truly enjoyed going back through these songs that were precious.  They immediately bring me back to mornings of sadness, confusion, fear, and pride--that I stuck with God, I fought the good fight and I grew even as I experienced more pain and difficulty than I thought I could.  These songs blessed me, and now I'm working on a new soundtrack for a different and new adventure that (currently) is characterized by more hope.

What is the soundtrack of your life?

I realized recently that I have gone through several soundtracks as I've gone through various stages of life.  This last stage was a time of great suffering.  One morning this week, I sat down on the couch, and I had a sense my trauma was visiting me again from the position I left in mid 2020.  The visit didn't last long, but I noticed it and lingered with the strange, sad sensation for a moment.  I knew the pain and trauma was over in the present.  I knew I'd be starting a new position with a new boss soon, and most likely I would not feel what I had felt in the past.  I felt sadness, a bit of the shame of that stage, and some pride again, as I remembered what those mornings were like.  Those mornings ended about five months ago, but had lasted nearly two years.  I would often shed tears during that time in my life.  I would wake at crazy hours of the morning, hoping to arrive to work and prove my worth somehow.  I needed God totally while I was being initiated in unprecedented ways.  I grew like crazy, but I also took some wounds and had to engage with a couple of rounds of professional counseling.  God didn't simply remove the pain, but I felt companionship with God and with Jesus like never before.  I was learning humility.  Humility is a precious lesson, and I paid dearly for it.  I'm not perfectly humble, but like a child who burn his hand on the stove, I will be slower to go for pride, I will be slower to speak and quicker to listen because of the pain and the journey I walked with God, both at work, relating to my family in the hardest of times, and because I want to maximize my positive impact as a leader.  God was in the music and lyrics that ministered to me in the storm, la tormenta, in Spanish.

Photo by 𝕯𝖆𝖗𝖎𝖆 𝓖𝓾𝓭𝓸𝓼𝓱𝓷𝓲𝓴𝓸𝓿𝓪 on Unsplash

So as I sat where I had sat so many times before, I was aware of how entirely beautiful it is to suffer and survive.  Remember the movie Life is Beautiful, in which the father suffers terribly even as he helps his son in a concentration camp to find joy? That is beauty in the suffering.  Likewise, music ministers to us in our pain and that truth is beautiful and good even when the pain is agonizing, hard, or just annoying.  

Music as a Source of Strength in the Hardest Times

It occurred to me that I should offer the beauty I experienced to you, dear reader, so that you might enjoy it, and find power to persevere in your hardest times.  Or, perhaps, you would share the songs below with a loved one or friend as he/she suffers in their life.  Music can be a comfort, offering strength to us in the form of a refrain or a phrase that is simply beautiful or catchy that we can sing at work in difficult times, or as we relate to difficult or even terrible people who are not managing their lives well.  As a self in many roles, we can choose to live as well as possible as we suffer hard times.  Part of that suffering will be addressed by music. Music helps us emote and live fully and well as it evokes the emotions we strive to repress.  Let us repress no more.  Let us be whole and holy and fragile and allow our worries and pain and fears to leave us as we walk through hard times.  I hope you would do this with God and Jesus as the "man of sorrows" who is willing to walk with you, to offer rest, and to heal your hurting parts.  The recovery will not be instant, nor the healing immediate, but your hardest times might well be some of the sweetest memories with your Father in heaven who loves you and your brother Jesus who died for you.  These songs help to ensure that, rather than the alternative: giving in to a thousand bitter thoughts, resentment, addictions, and shame and blame.  Those are ugly lies that are bad for everyone we love and for our own soul.  Let music lance the wounds the world is dishing out.  Let goodness, truth, and beauty heal you like a poultice for your soul.  There is a way to live well in the hardest of times. 

I offer today's blog and these precious songs below with all of my heart, a gift from me to you.

The past two years I listened to a several songs to survive and persevere. If you are going through some of the hardest times you've experienced, I recommend this list of songs:

My Songs for the Hardest Times list is available now on YouTube, and here are the links to each song, below, with my favorite lyric in each song:


Gold, by Leeland: 

"He's turning all our wounds to gold"

Gracious Tempest, cover by Michael Bird: 

"Your love is like a storm"

Friend, by Jonathan Ogden: 

"I know, I know/ You'll never let me go/ Spirit help me reach the end"

Friend, cover en español by Xgracia, a wonderful worship band in Chile: 

"Yo sé, yo sé, jamás solo estaré"

Trust, by Jonathan Ogden: 

"I trust you, I trust you, I trust you"

Trust, cover en español, by Xgracia, the band from Chile: 

"Y confío en Ti, yo confío"

PEACE by Hillsong Young & Free, cover by Jonathan Odgen: 

"All anxiety bows in the presence of Jesus the Keeper of Peace/ And peace is a promise He keeps"

Nothing is Wasted, Elevation Worship:

"You are loving, you are wise/ There is nothing in my life you cannot revive"

Almighty God, by One Sonic Society:

"Almighty God is our fortress/ He is with us, God is with us"

Find Me, by Jonathan and Melissa Helser

"Find me grateful..thankful..on my knees..dreaming..singing..lost in your love"

I See the Lord/Father's Mountain, covers by Jonathan Ogden: 

 "And the whole earth is filled/ With His glory"

Where you Are (Acoustic), by Leeland: 

"I just wanna be where you are, I just wanna be near your heart"

Fall Afresh, Bethel Music Loft Sessions:

"Spirit of the living God, come fall afresh on me/ Come wake me from my sleep"

My Heart is Overwhelmed, Hillsong (Acoustic)

"Your love has set the broken captives free... I'm found in grace, in love's embrace, my heart is overwhelmed"

Jesus I Come, Elevation Worship:

"I will rise and stand redeemed/ Heaven open over me"

God You Are My God, One Sonic Society:

"No power can defeat You God"

May God bless you in your hardest times.  Please consider commenting or dropping me a line via email.

New content every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday right here at manyroles.com or the podcast.  Follow me @maninmanyroles on Twitter, and/or subscribe via email using the button at the top of this page.

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