Let’s Normalize This…

On occasion, in addition to the blogs on this page, I also post microblogs to Living Simply With God’s facebook page. Today was one of those days, and I wanted to share it with this audience as well. It’s important enough and so are you.

Written for fb today:

Think about how well you do your job. Could any friend or family member just come along and do what you do? Probably not. You’ve been trained in what you do. You may have gone to school for it. You may have gone for a really, really long time. SAHMs, could just anyone parent the way you do? No. You’re the most qualified. Why then, do we allow friends and family (or our own minds) to take the place of therapists when therapists can offer expertise like no one else can? Here’s some things that have been on my heart:

❤️ Therapists aren’t only for people with “something wrong with them”.

❤️ Someone with a diagnosis doesn’t have “something wrong with them” anyway. They have a diagnosis & it’s just a part of a whole person.

❤️ Since someone isn’t their diagnosis we should never say the “schizophrenic” or the “autistic” kid. They are a person with schizophrenia or autism. Person first language, ALWAYS, but just names are even better.

❤️ Major Depressive Disorder is different than depression and vice versa. Same for Anxiety Disorder/Anxiety, etc. All can be conquered, albeit differently, which is where a good therapist can come in.

❤️ Therapists can help people live their lives better, even if there’s no presenting diagnosis, depression, anxiety, etc.

❤️Feeling overwhelmed with packed schedules? Therapists can help.

❤️ Have that one family member, friend, or co-worker that you just can’t deal with? Therapists can help.

❤️ Can’t say no or habitually withdraw? Therapists can help with both.

❤️ We may not vibe with a therapist, and that’s ok. They are people with personalities just like us. Don’t despair, just try someone else. I found mine on my second try, but I would have had a third if we didn’t click.

❤️ Medication isn’t for everyone; but for some it can make all the difference in getting brain chemicals to balance out within normal ranges.

❤️Even if medication does help, therapists can’t hurt.

❤️Therapists can be long-time supports or in our lives just for a season.

❤️My season was for one year. Weekly & then bi-monthly, and then I moved on. Maybe I’ll see someone again in the future, but for now, I’m implementing the practices I learned during that year, which came after a few years of chronic stress. My body was taking the toll and keeping score without me even knowing it, and I needed help. My regular doctor helped as much as she could, but God and my therapist took over the rest.

❤️One of the biggest comforts to someone in therapy is hearing someone else say something like, “I learned this in therapy this week” or “My therapist said…” It helps them know they are not alone and that other people are comfortable with therapy, so maybe they can be, too.
❤️Let’s normalize therapy, shall we?

❤️If you’re Christian, protect that worldview in your sessions. Let your therapist know on day 1 that you only want to work within the scope of His Truth. That changes the advice given at times. If a secular counselor can’t do that well and respectfully, find a Christian counselor.

❤️Therapy works best when we also cast our fears upon the Lord & allow Him to direct our steps.

All my love,
Helen ❤️

Now that the advent study is done, wondering what’s in store? I plan on going back to my weekly Wednesday posts, starting next week and will start by sharing an updated version of last year’s Be Still Series. What better time to examine what’s on our plates and learn about balance than at the new year? See you then!

Prodigal Series Day 16: Good Father, An Example

As a quick reminder, we are going to start to look at how the father figure challenged norms in how he responded throughout the parable.  In turn, we should be inspired to respectfully and appropriately challenge the norms of our society, opting instead for the more kingdom-mindful response.

Remember how the younger son was totally out of line to ask for the inheritance?  We discussed this in week 1 together.  Not only was it utterly insulting and against traditionally accepted behavior, but it required the father to uproot his life in order to make good on the request of him. 

Now, let’s look at the other side of the same coin, shifting our focus from the son to the father.  This response to the inheritance request will be the first response we look at together. Since we know the father figure is a stand in for our heavenly Father, by shifting our gaze upon Him, we are implementing a foundational practice while reading Scripture.

Focusing on what Scripture tells us about God is a significant rule of thumb, because the Bible is ultimately a story about God, HIS redemption story, His purposes, and HIS ways.  The misgivings of other characters are secondary plot lines and should serve to highlight the goodness and righteousness of God!

OK. Back to the parable at hand…

So when looking at the father, there’s a few things to understand.  First, this was an intensely patriarchal society. Respect for elders, particularly parents, was of monumental importance.  How should the father have acted within the confines of traditional Middle Eastern society?  Physical blows. That’s right! Physical retaliation would have been what was expected of the father and acting accordingly would have been totally justified, given the magnitude of the son’s request. 

But what did he actually do? 

He gave up what was his, apparently with neither hesitation nor animosity.

This would have been unheard of! Patriarchs would never have responded so patiently in the face of dishonor and rejected love.

What do we do when someone hurts us?  I know what we should do…but if we are truthful, we oftentimes don’t act as we should.  We may not necessarily downright retaliate with forthright pain or sinister schemes most foul, but perhaps we give the silent treatment? Gossip to others about it?  Harbor resentment (like the older brother)?  Love a little less? Perhaps we either self-soothe so the rejection doesn’t sting as much or avoid the person all together. 

Here, with the father’s example, we have a better option.  He bears the agony himself and maintains affection for his child.

Does this sound familiar?  When else can we think of a time our Father bared the agony in silence?

For the rest of today, and hopefully beyond, prayerfully contemplate how to use the Father’s example (both fictional and actual) to inform more biblically-based responses to nefarious words and actions.  Let the Word change where we need changing!

Tomorrow we will look at the next way the father went against the tide of normal expectations. 

Until then,


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.

Prodigal Series Day 15: Good Father, A Story within a Story

Welcome to week 3! This week really highlights the positive aspects of the story.  We are spending the rest of our time together focusing on the Father, and He will leave you in awe. 

I’d like to introduce you to a pair of inter-related parallels which can be better appreciated now have a fairly good handle on the text. 

Back in week one, I suggested that the prodigal son parable was a parallel to Jesus’ own ministry.  The parallels don’t end there!  Let’s push ourselves a bit more and extrapolate further.  Let’s also consider that this is not the only story of exile in the Bible, right?  We have the exile motif all throughout the Old and New Testaments.  There’s even a whole book dedicated to exile: the book of Exodus. 

We not only have another exile-type narrative in the Prodigal Son, but we have a narrative which is actually a microcosm for the entire Bible!  Think about it! The entire Bible is one entire exodus story…a story between two gardens (in Genesis and then in Revelation), wherein God is revealing how His lost children find their way back home to Him through Jesus. 

Remarkable!  The Prodigal Son is a stand-in for the entire Bible! 

OK. Ready for one more parallel?  Let’s take this same metaphor one step further.  If the Bible is the story of how God’s children get reconciled back to Himself, which is also the story of the Prodigal…then the Prodigal is also totally reminiscent of the entire human race. 

We are lost.  We need to be found.  Going back to the Father through Jesus is how we get there.

See, I told you this “basic” story is more than it appears, even after many readthroughs! Have I made good on my promise to teach something new on an old story yet?  I hope so!  If not, you are certainly wiser than I am!

And believe it or not, we are still not done with uncovering what we can glean from the parable (even when the series is over, there will still be way more we haven’t touched on!).

Last week we learned how this is actually the story of two lost sons, not one.  This week I want you to consider something else entirely:  it’s a story about a father’s love. 

We are going to explore just how well the father loved by looking at his reactions throughout the parable.  You see, he really challenged norms in three main ways, and we are going to spend a day on each of those ways before wrapping up at the end of the week. 

The next three days will be relatively short teachings, but they will offer lots to reflect upon for the reader who yearns to apply biblical principles to their life. Sound like a plan?

See you tomorrow!

Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.

Prodigal Series Day 11: Older Son, A Different Lostness

By now, we’ve well established that there are two different kinds of “lostness” playing out in this parable:  the outwardly visible variety and the more inward-facing variety. Also, remember that each brother corresponds to either the sinners or the Pharisees, so we also have another level of storytelling happening: Jesus is pointedly emphasizing out the weaknesses of each camp in his audience.

The older brother was spiritually lost (and, by association, the Pharisees).  It’s much more elusive than the undeniable sinful life of the younger brother.  Timothy Keller, pastor and author, dubs this as “Elder Brother Lostness”.  The latter brings as much misery to others and the offender as being lost in a distant country.

Here, then, is Jesus’ radical redefinition of what is wrong with us. Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of spoken or unspoken rules. Jesus though, shows us that a man who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as lost as the most offensively sinful person.


Because, in this light, sin is not just breaking the rules. It occurs when we elevate ourselves to a place that is only reserved for God: a place of judgement. It occurs when we believe we have “arrived” and totally get life, faith, and all the things (spoiler: we never will on this side of eternity). We may think we are incapable of sinning, or…at the very least, not as frequently and deeply as others. These are all symptoms of elder brother lostness.

Here’s a loving word of caution: elder brothers almost never even know they are lost.  In understanding how this spiritual lostness manifests, however, we will be equipped to better see it in ourselves.  If we don’t, we risk never being able to repent and change our prideful ways.

In this light, the younger brother has the advantage: there’s no denying he is lost. He can choose to go home.  Older brothers, though?  They haven’t a clue.  They will remain in their sinfulness, aloof and unawares, blind to their fatal condition.

In fact, the older brother (and Pharisees) would have taken complete offense to the very suggestion that he was rebelling against the father’s authority. No one had ever taught anything like this before the parables in Luke 15.

Remember, this parable is aimed at the Pharisees.  Jesus wanted to reveal to them who they were, as well as others who are ridden with pride, and urge them to change.

By the grace and provision of God, there is a way out of this type of sin as well, so all hope is not lost, even for those who suffer from elder brother lostness.  That will be our focus for tomorrow!

All my Love,


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.

Prodigal Series Day 10: Older Son, A Party

Last week we learned how appalling it was for the younger son to ask his father for his inheritance.  However, once the older brother hears of his brother’s return and subsequent festivities in his honor, it became his turn to disgrace his father.  The older brother was downright furious. 

He refuses to go into the party, which, more than likely, was the biggest shindig his father ever hosted.  By not going into the party, he is publicly declaring his disapproval. It would have been considered quite demeaning for the father to come out and plead with the older son as he did.  

In that culture, the proper way to greet a father might have been something like, “Dear Father…” However, the older brother does not bother with courteous pleasantries. He goes right to the heart of his frustations and addresses his father with a mere, “Look!”  We might envision someone waving their fists while yelling, “Look, you!…” while continuing with their tirade in today’s culture.  In a society where respect and deference to elders was all important, such behavior was truly ill advised and frowned upon.

When confronted by his father’s joy at the return of his younger brother, we see a powerful resentment come to the surface. We were told how obedient the older son was, so we can surmise that such disrespectful behavior was out of the norm. Suddenly, there becomes a glaringly visible proud, unkind, and selfish person. The anger we see here was a slow burn over many years.

Let’s flesh this out a bit, because its imperative that we avoid the same type of sin when possible. Essentially, the older brother exhibits the stifled feelings of someone who feels they never got what was due to them.  He was keeping tabs.   

The older brother is especially upset about the cost of the party.  It would appear as though the father spent more on the “sinful brother” than he ever did on the “obedient” one.  The latter claims he never even had the pleasure of a goat at a party, never mind a fattened calf like the former. The fattened calf is only a symbol, however, because as the choicest, most expensive meat at that time, the calf would have symbolized abundance, pulling out all the stops, etc. 

It was grace on top of grace.

Abundance and then some.

The father didn’t just accept the son back; he went above and beyond to knit him back into the fabric of their family and community. 

The older son compares himself to the sinful younger brother.  He supposes his role and blessing should be relative to others.  He thinks he deserves grace AND also that grace should be withheld from his younger brother.  For some reason, his brother’s happiness has a bearing on his own level of joy. 

As opposed to a both/and scenario, only a either/or scenario plays out in his mind with regard to who can receive blessings and grace. There isn’t room for both sons at the feast (or both type of people as the Pharisees would see it). One has to go, and no one puts big brother in the corner. The Bible calls this self-righteousness, and it needs to be avoided at all costs.

Have you ever compared yourself to someone else?  Maybe justify an action by saying, “At least as I’m not as bad as that Karen over there…” Be careful.  God sees all sin the same, and herein lies a blind spot for most of us: thinking too little of our sin can keep us from experiencing the fullness of the love of God in the same way that thinking too much of it can.

So, regardless of if we think we’ve sinned too much to come back to God (like the choice we spoke about last week) or we don’t really think our sin is that bad or even existent at all, the Bible unilaterally calls us to repentance.

Now that we have an awareness that our pride and self-righteousness can lead to sin, as it did with the older brother, we are going to examine that particular kind of lostness more tomorrow.  It’s one of the most important lessons in the entire New Testament!

All my Love,


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.

Prodigal Series Day 9: Older Son, A Surprise

While this parable is commonly known as “The Prodigal Son” (I even call it this throughout the series), I’d like us to start to think of it a bit differently.  You see, that name isn’t quite right. It’s misleading to single out only one of the sons as the sole focus of the story. Even Jesus doesn’t call it the parable of the prodigal son, but begins the story by saying, “There was a man who had two sons.” (Luke 15:11, emphasis mine)

In the younger brother character, Jesus depicts a variation of sin that anyone would recognize. He was openly disrespectful to his father and squandered his inheritance.  No one would venture to say, “He’s a totally upstanding human being.  Really solid guy.  Totally dependable. He’s welcome to date my daughter.” No.  People would agree in unison that the younger brother was living sinfully.  The listeners would have considered this person to be cut off from God. We revisit the younger son only to highlight a stark contrast to the older brother character.

The latter is seemingly loyal to his father. He has the self-discipline that is so desperately lacking in his younger brother.

So, here we have two sons: one “bad” by conventional standards, and one “good.” Nonetheless, both are alienated from their father.  How so? That’s exactly what we are going to unpack this week.   

Each brother represents a different way to be alienated from God and a different way to seek acceptance into the Kingdom.  The narrative is as much about the elder brother as the younger, and as much about the father as the sons….which is why I’ve decided to break these teachings up by character each week.  Moreover, what Jesus says about the older brother is one of the most important messages given to us in the Bible.

Remember last week how we said that Jesus was talking to the sinners and the Pharisees when he told this story?

As it turns out, this parable was actually meant for the Pharisees. Although both groups can certainly benefit from the message, it is directed to the Pharisees.  The sinners didn’t ask why Jesus was eating with them.  The Pharisees asked, and Jesus responded with the stories documented in Luke 15.  The three parables are in response to their attitude, which the Pharisees would steadfastly maintain was right with God.  We will see how this was not the case and how Jesus powerfully pleaded with them to change their hearts so they could enter the Kingdom.

Let’s revisit a parallel we learned last week. The sinners are synonymous with the younger brother. But, as we just mentioned, Jesus was talking to the sinners AND the Pharisees.

Two brothers.

Two audiences.

If the sinners were the younger brother, what does that make the older brother?

That’s right.  The older brother is synonymous with the Pharisees!  That means how he sinned and how he reacted, which we will observe more closely this week, albeit differently than his younger brother, were similar to how the Pharisees sinned and reacted. 

Make no mistake: just like the sinners realizing that the younger brother was really them imposed into the tale, the Pharisees would have also noticed.  The Pharisees would have also pieced together that they were the older brothers, and they would not have appreciated what Jesus had to say about them either.  A sinner being welcomed without restitution?! Nonsense!  A clearly obedient and righteous man not getting what he earned?!  Preposterous!

Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious (sinners and Pharisees) are spiritually lost, but Jesus was also ushering in a new way to live.  One that offered eternal life to the repentant…One that offered a reason to press pause for anyone who thought they were above sin.

This parable of the two lost sons is a total gamechanger in every way. I’m here for it! How about you?

Same time, same place tomorrow? See you then…and bring a warm beverage of choice 😊

Music Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Here’s a playlist created just for this series! Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home.

Prodigal Series Day 5: Younger Son, A Plan Flawed

Let’s take a minute and think about a time when we were in a distant country (or a time clearly led by sin and ignoring God, for anyone who may have not read the earlier days in this series yet).  Maybe you are there now. If so, I’ve already said a prayer for your deliverance from that space.

When we are in a distant country, we may try to get out of the mess we are in on our own.  Whether its pride, embarrassment, doubt, or a plethora of other rationales that the enemy convinces us are true, we don’t get help.  We don’t seek Him.  We know something needs to change, but we ignore or handle it on our own. 

Here’s the thing: we will only get in our own way if we try to fix things ourselves, solely on our own accord.  Our very best solution will always be a partial solution at best. The solution will be flawed. I’m speaking from a few decades of misguided experiences here.

Let’s look at the parable, and see what I mean.

After failed attempts at living well in the distant country, by verse 17, the younger son knows he messed up and wants to go back home.  He knows he is technically still a son biologically, but he also thinks he lost his status as member of the family. 

Remember how egregious he was in asking for the inheritance and leaving home?  Here’s where that comes into play again.  Back then, rabbis taught that if one violated their family so severely as this son had, an apology would be insufficient to make amends.  Restitution would need to be paid. 

The son would have known this teaching which is why some scholars speculate the son planned to come back as a hired servant: he knew he would have to pay restitution. Being a hired servant would afford him the opportunity to do so.  Remember, he had no money left of his own.

The son’s own plans went something like this: “I know I don’t have the right to come back to the family but if they apprentice me to one of their hired men, I can learn a trade, earn an income, and begin to pay off my debt.”

Since we’ve already acknowledged the father in this parable equates to our Heavenly Father, this is like saying, “I couldn’t make it on my own. God is the only resource left to me. I will go to God and ask for forgiveness in the hope He lets me survive in proximity to Him, but under the pretense of forced labor.”

That doesn’t sound very enticing, does it? Nor does it portray the actual child/Heavenly Father relationship as it really exists upon repentance. Instead, by this perspective, our God remains a harsh, judgmental God. Submission to this God does not create true inner freedom, but breeds bitterness and resentment.

You see, the younger son had partial answer and an incorrect solution.  We don’t need to pay off debts.  Jesus did that on the cross.  As we will see tomorrow, the younger son didn’t need to pay off his debts either.  His carefully laid out, well-intentioned plan did not even compare to what his father had in mind. 

His own plan was incomplete, but his father’s was anything but. 

See you tomorrow!


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.

Prodigal Series Day 3: Younger Son, A distant country

Ready to start reading between the lines and see what stands for what? Here’s a link to the parable for easy access.

Remember how Jesus was talking to two groups of people?  Who was he talking to?  He was addressing the Pharisees while he was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, remember?  This means they both heard what he had to say. Both audiences would have heard about both sons: the younger and the older. 

Don’t miss this next point…  

The younger brother represents the sinners and tax collectors at the table.  They disregarded acceptable norms of society and lived wildly, just like the younger son. Therefore, everything Jesus has to say about the openly sinful person (the younger brother type), they would have been able to internalize. They would have recognized that Jesus was not only talking to them…he was talking about them.

One analogy down, one more to go for today, but many more to come over the next 3 weeks.

Leaving home is more than just exploring the world. 

When Luke writes that the younger son left for a distant country (or far country, depending on the translation), he indicates much more than the desire of a young man to see more of the world. In our culture, we may think of an empty nester in our circle of friends. Perhaps they have a child who just flew across the country to see what else was in store for them beyond their hometown. However, here, Jesus is not just talking about some natural progression in the parent-child relationship whereby some apron strings just need to be snipped.

Instead, Jesus is depicting a drastic cutting loose from multi-generational values and traditions. The younger brother’s actions are not just disrespectful; they are downright betraying.

The son seemingly believed that life in the far country was better than life in his father’s house. The far country which he sought after and abided in for a period of time is representative of abiding in sin.  Let’s understand the metaphor Jesus is using here: the far country isn’t just physical.  The distant country refers to any place where we do not have God as our priority.

Leaving home, then, is much more than a singular, temporal event linked to a tangible, alternative location. Leaving home is living as though we do not have a home yet and must look far and wide to find one.

The sinners listening were considered to be in their own distant countries.

When we pursue sin, it’s because we believe the enemy’s fallacy that disobeying God will be good for us. We must be on guard. Not all excursions to distant countries are non-stop flights with pre-selected destinations. No, not at all. It’s quite easy for innocent distractions to start dominating our lives and pull us into the distant country, one little layover at a time.

How do we know when we’ve arrived in a distant country?

Anger, resentment, jealousy, desire for revenge, lust, greed, and rivalries are obvious signs that we have left home.

My church’s partnership class puts it this way:

People were created to have fellowship with God. However, because of our own stubborn self-will, we chose to go our own way, and fellowship with God was broken. This self-will, characterized by an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference, is evidence of what the Bible calls sin.

Wallenpaupack Church, Partnership Class

The further we run away from the place where God dwells, the less we are able to hear the voice that calls us the beloved. The less we hear that voice, all the more magnified does the enemy’s voice become.

Now, we have a clearer understanding of what is being framed out in this narrative: Jesus is equating the sinners with the younger brother. He goes even further to equate the latter’s distant country with the sinner’s own reality of being distant from their heavenly Father; from their true home.

Tomorrow were are going to explore exactly why the younger son’s actions were so egregious.  To do so, we are going to focus on a part of the story which if often overlooked- or at least not paid as much attention as its due. Excited to review it with you!

See you then!


Accompanying Playlist

Did you know I created a worship playlist just for this series?!

Celebrate a good, good Father who is always calling and welcoming his children home!

Previous posts from the Prodigal Series

Miss one? I got you covered! All teachings from this series are found here.

New Content Coming & BIG announcement!!

Good morning!

I’m writing to let you know about a few exciting launches on the horizon. It’s been a while! While those who follow on social media have an idea of why I’ve been inactive and what’s coming, I realized that some only follow here through the blog itself.

So, what’s coming?

Starting this Sunday, I’m publishing a DAILY teaching series on the Prodigal Son. Its an adaptation from a sermon series I delivered this summer at my home church, and I’m so excited to bring it to you in the bite-size tidbits that are so customary for Living Simply with God! That series will fun for 3 weeks and has an accompanying playlist which celebrates our good Father who chases after us and welcomes us home.

Advent begins on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and there will be another DAILY series launching at that time which will run through Christmas Day. This is another labor of love, brought to you by my pastor, a dear sister in Christ, and myself. This will include a short, daily devo (similar to the Jesus Calling format, if you are familiar with that) that is based on the biblical truths found in traditional Christmas hymns. This Advent Series also has an accompanying playlist for all the referenced hymns.

I’m starting to populate the “Seasonal” part of my website with all things Christmas (decor, books, etc.) so be sure to check that out!

If you don’t already follow on social media, head on over! I share much more content, along with my personal walk, on those platforms. FB just reached over 500 followers this week! Praising Him!

Speaking of my personal walk, the last few months have included a season on increased service at church as well as a time of discernment which is why I haven’t been writing. The Lord has led me to pursue pastoral ordination and that process began over the summer. I will be attending seminary (at 40!) this January so prayers appreciated! A future series will follow how this calling on my life is playing out, in real time. God’s still writing that story so I really have no idea what it will look like!

Thank you all for the support! If I can pray for any of you, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’ll see you Sunday morning with the Prodigal Series…

For Him,


Simplifying Common Scriptural References

Here’s a different type of blog entry, but I think you’ll enjoy it! Our pastor gave me a brief assignment this Easter: study the lyrics in the song Lion by Elevation Worship and, on Easter Sunday, share a 4-minute teaching explaining the biblical references found in the song.  The idea was to give everyone a better understanding of what they were about to sing.  

I adored the assignment, and the song did not disappoint when it came to providing references to teach about. In today’s blog, I’m going to share an expanded version of what I taught on Easter Sunday. 

If you haven’t heard the song yet, you can find the lyrics here and watch/listen to it on YouTube below.  

Clearly, the song is steeped in rich scriptural references and imagery.  I’m going unpack some of those references to offer some additional context.  Hopefully, in doing so we will not only understand the lyrics more, but really begin to internalize how they point up and back to God.  

Regardless of which image I attempt to explain, just know that they all have one thing in common: they relate to a larger story of God’s redeeming faithfulness throughout history, which really is the very thing which allows us to gather and celebrate on Easter. 

At least two names for God are used in the song: the God of Jacob and the Great I AM.

God of Jacob

When we sing about the God of Jacob, we are referring to a term from Genesis 31.  We often hear the term, “God of Jacob” as part of a trio: God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Whenever we hear associations to generations or lineages in the Bible, that usually points us to God’s faithfulness throughout those generations.  

What God says in earlier generations either comes to pass in later ones or stands as proof of His faithfulness to those who follow.  For example, when God made the Abrahamic covenant with Abraham, His plan included descendants as numerous as the stars, which included Jacob, David, Jesus, and us as believers. 

Also, something else to keep in mind about Jacob, like us, Jacob didn’t have a pristine history or character. This is important, because in many ways, he is us.  Yet, God was still able to accomplish His purposes through Him as being the fulfillment and perpetuator of a promise.  

God doesn’t seem to mind being known as the God of Jacob (or God of…insert sinners name here…) for all of eternity.  God came for all of us.

The Great I AM

Another name we will come across is The Great I AM, which is a term from the story of Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3.  When God appeared before Moses in the flames, he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob” (like we just read about) and then went on to say, “Moses, I-AM-WHO-I-AM,”  also known as The Great I Am. 

Now, just a few verses before this, God explained His plan for His people when He said, “I’ve taken a good long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt.  I’ve heard their cries of deliverance from your their masters.  I know all about their pain.  Now, I’ve come down to help them.”

As God came down in the bush that day, He also came down to dwell among us in Jesus. In the same way I AM set out to free His people in Exodus 3, Jesus also came to free His people from what holds them captive & usher them into a new life.

When we sing “I AM,” we should recognize that God just is. He is present.  He was present then in the past and still is today.

Also, God’s conversation with Moses nods back to God as the God of Jacob, further reinforcing His faithfulness throughout the ages. 

So far, we have looked at two names for God the Father, but let’s take a look at some of the references to Christ the son. 

Lion of Judah

Another really specific reference we will sing about is the Lion of Judah.  Judah is the 4th son of Jacob, the person we just heard about in Genesis.  In Genesis 49:9 we learn that Jacob gives the lion symbol to Judah and his tribe.  The Lion of Judah also pops up right at the very end, in Revelation.  There we learn that the Lion of Judah is Jesus…and when we sing let the lion roar in the song, remember there’s an authority in a roar.  A Lion’s presence is known.  Our Lord’s presence should be known and should leave an impression.  

Also, let’s not miss that the same term for Jesus in mentioned in Genesis and Revelation, the first and last books of the Bible.  He truly always was and is there, harking back to the idea of God as the Great I Am. 

When we sing “Hail, Hail, Lion of Judah” keep in mind that no earthly king or conqueror can offer what our one true God can: eternal life.  When we “Hail” we show respect, obedience, and allegiance. 

Pride of Zion

We hear about the Pride of Zion in 1 & 2 Samuel, but the term Zion is referred to over 150 times in Scripture.  It carries different and broadening meanings as Scripture progresses, starting with a specific reference to the City of David (i.e., Jerusalem) and morphing into God’s spiritual kingdom as a whole. In the New Testament, Peter quotes the Old Testament prophet Isaiah and calls Jesus the cornerstone of Zion…meaning the whole of God’s kingdom rests on Him.  

Of course, there’s also significance when we think about Zion being Jerusalem, the City of David, considering that Jesus is a descendant of David, who by the way, is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Isn’t that amazing?!  All of these terms reinforce one another in multiple ways. Are you beginning to grasp how God’s divine plan and faithfulness has played out perfectly throughout human history? 

He who Opens the Scroll

Keep all this in mind with the lyrics, “You alone are worthy to open up the scroll.”  This is a prophecy mentioned in Revelation when John was told, “Do not weep for the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered so that he may open the scroll and its seven seals.” This sounds a little abstract but that’s ok…because it is.  It’s an apocalyptic prophecy, which is generally more abstract in nature, and it begins to make more sense when we understand the references it makes throughout Scriptures. 

You can read more about this vision in Revelation, but basically Jesus alone was found worthy to open a scroll because, as the lamb of God, He had shed His blood for all mankind.  He became worthy of universal praise. 

Lamb of God

The term Lamb of God is one which may sound more familiar to us, but this concept of Jesus as lamb is too important to just breeze over.  Here’s what we are referencing when we talk about the lamb of God:  in the times of the Old Testament, lambs were sin offerings.  These sacrifices were time-limited, and they needed to be made again and again…that is…until Jesus came.

He was perfect, an extension of God: the God of Jacob, the Great I Am, the Lion of Judah, the Pride of Zion, and the cornerstone of the City of David.  He was the perfect sacrifice.  Our sins could be wiped clean once and for all.  We need not have to sacrifice sin offerings anymore.  The work on Calvary finished that sacrificial cycle. Jesus as the lamb was not just led to the slaughter- he was slaughtered.  We will sing “Like the lamb, You suffered,” and like the Passover lamb, Jesus also died because of sins he did not commit…OUR sins.

Make no mistake, however: with the dying of the lamb, we also have the rising of a lion!

He is our lamb and our lion, our Lord AND our Savior.  He is worthy of praise.

And that’s what we are called to do.  Praise him for His faithfulness throughout human history to restore us back to himself…for being a human sacrifice in our place…for giving us a way to be with and worship God forever. He is the source of our eternal life and destination, our center and circumference. Let’s worship Him as such!

Our worship team at Wallenpaupack Church did such an incredible job with this song on Easter. Please check it out by clicking here! Enjoy the all that the talent and lyrics have to offer!

Also, for anyone who wants to watch the original, abbreviated version of this teaching, check out this clip, beginning at 5:10.